Background: Sensitization to human leukocyte antigens remains an important barrier to successful renal transplantation.
Materials and methods: Herein we describe our center's experience with a plasmapheresis-based desensitization protocol for highly sensitized patients. Twenty-nine patients had a positive T-cell or positive B-cell lymphocytotoxicity crossmatch against their donors. In some cases, baseline crossmatches were of high titer (e.g., 11 had baseline titers > or =1:32).
Results: Twenty-eight of 29 patients were rendered T-cell crossmatch negative and B-cell crossmatch negative/low positive and transplanted. None had hyperacute rejection but 11 (39%) had acute antibody mediated rejection. Median follow-up is 22 months: 25 of the 28 (89%) of allografts are still functioning with mean plasma creatinine 1.5 mg/dL. There was one death because of the transplant or immunsuppression, one case of cytomegalovirus disease and no cases of lymphoproliferative disease.
Conclusion: This series provides further evidence of the high efficacy of plasmapheresis-based desensitization protocols. Even patients with high baseline crossmatch titers can be successfully desensitized and transplanted. Short- and medium-term outcomes are encouraging but longer-term data are needed.