Immunopathology of antibodies as effectors of orthotopic liver allograft rejection

Semin Liver Dis. 1992 Feb;12(1):51-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1007376.


We have come a long way in our understanding of antibodies as effectors of liver graft damage, but we still have much to learn. Animal heterografts provided the first evidence that livers are susceptible to antibody-mediated damage. The pathophysiologic events are similar to those of extrahepatic organ grafts, but the liver is relatively resistant and rapidity of graft destruction is slower, if it occurs at all. Nevertheless, the ABO isoagglutinins can predictably cause human liver allograft failure, often in a quickened, but rarely a hyperacute fashion. The liver is more resistant to lymphocytotoxins, and in many cases will suffer no apparent damage. However, when present, a spectrum of graft pathologic changes can be seen. Early manifestations include hemorrhagic necrosis and lesions mimicking "preservation" injury. Later on, ischemic biliary necrosis and small bile duct loss may be seen. The variability is likely related to a balance between destructive antibody class, specificity, and titers and the ability of the liver to withstand the assault. More precise characterization of lymphocytotoxic antibodies is needed in clinical practice. In addition, antigen distribution in the graft, release of soluble MHC antigens, the role of Kupffer cells and other mechanisms of liver resistance are likely areas of fruitful investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Heart Transplantation / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology
  • Liver Transplantation / immunology*
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Antibodies
  • Histocompatibility Antigens