Background: In 2001 a protocol for ABO-incompatible (ABOi) kidney transplantation based on antigen-specific immunoadsorption and rituximab was introduced at our center, short-term results being comparable with those of ABO-compatible (ABOc) living donor kidney transplantation. Of greater importance, however, is long-term graft function, thus far not evaluated. The aim of this study was therefore to assess long-term results of this protocol.
Methods: Twenty ABOi kidney recipients with more than 12-month follow-up were included in the study: all adult crossmatch negative ABOi kidney recipients (n=15) were compared with an adult ABOc living donor recipient control group (n=30), and all pediatric ABOi kidney recipients (<16 years of age) (n=5) were compared with a group of pediatric ABOc kidney recipients (n=18).
Results: Mean follow-up was three years. There was no significant difference in patient survival, nor in graft survival or in the incidence of acute rejection in any of the groups. In the adult kidney recipients mean glomerular filtration rate was equivalent at all time points (79-83 mL/min), as was Deltas-creatinine. In the pediatric groups, Deltas-creatinine was similar but glomerular filtration rate lower among the ABOi kidney recipients. There was a significant reduction (P<0.0001) without rebound in A/B antibody titers after transplantation (median IgG 1:2 and median IgM 1:1>1 year posttransplant) compared with pretransplant levels (median IgG 1:32 and IgM 1:16).
Conclusion: We conclude that ABOi kidney transplantation using antigen-specific immunoadsorption and rituximab is equivalent to ABOc living donor kidney transplantation. ABOi transplantation after this protocol does not have a negative impact on long-term graft function.