Background: Good HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DR matches do not guarantee rejection-free renal transplantation. Some kidney transplants fail despite such matches, suggesting that other antigens might be targets for rejection. Major-histocompatibility-complex (MHC) class I-related chain A (MICA) antigens are polymorphic and can elicit antibody production. We sought to determine whether an immune response to MICA antigens might play a role in the failure of kidney allografts.
Methods: Pretransplantation serum samples from 1910 recipients of kidney transplants from deceased donors were tested for anti-MICA antibodies with an assay in which single MICA antigens were attached to polystyrene microspheres.
Results: Antibodies against MICA alleles were detected in 217 of the 1910 patients (11.4%). The presence of MICA antibodies was associated with renal-allograft rejection. The mean (+/-SE) 1-year graft-survival rate was 88.3+/-2.2% among recipients with anti-MICA antibodies as compared with 93.0+/-0.6% among recipients without anti-MICA antibodies (P=0.01). Among recipients of first kidney transplants, the survival rate was even lower among MICA antibody-positive patients (87.8+/-2.4%) than among MICA antibody-negative recipients (93.5+/-0.6%, P=0.005). In addition, the association of MICA sensitization with reduced graft survival was more evident in kidney-transplant recipients with good HLA matching: among 326 recipients who received well-matched kidneys (0 or 1 HLA-A plus HLA-B plus HLA-DR mismatch), sensitization against MICA was associated with poorer allograft survival (83.2+/-5.8% among those with anti-MICA antibodies vs. 95.1+/-1.3% among those without such antibodies, P=0.002).
Conclusions: Presensitization of kidney-transplant recipients against MICA antigens is associated with an increased frequency of graft loss and might contribute to allograft loss among recipients who are well matched for HLA.
Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.