Background: Antibodies (Ab) responses to major and minor human leukocyte antigen loci may impact graft survival after organ transplantation.
Methods: A ProtoArray platform was used to study 37 serum samples from 15 renal transplant patients with (n=10) and without (n=5) acute rejection (AR) and seven normal controls, and the clinical relevance of major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related gene-A (MICA)-Ab measurements were investigated. Biopsy immunohistochemistry was conducted for localization of the MICA antigen.
Results: De novo MICA-Ab were detected in 11 of the 15 transplant patients in this study, irrespective of interval acute graft rejection. Mean MICA-Ab signal intensity was higher in transplant patients with C4d+AR (121.4) versus C4d-AR (4.3), correlated with donor-specific Ab to human leukocyte antigens (r=0.66, P=0.0078), was not elevated in cellular rejections, and correlated with decline in graft function over the subsequent year (r=0.73, P=0.0022). Integrative genomics accurately predicted localization of the MICA antigen to the glomerulus in the normal kidney (Li et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009; 106: 4148), because this was confirmed subsequently by immunohistochemistry.
Conclusions: Integrative genomics analysis of ProtoArray data is a powerful tool to ascertain de novo antibody responses after renal transplantation and to accurately predict the anatomical location of the target renal antigens. This proof-of-concept study on MICA measurements by ProtoArray demonstrates that antibody responses modulated to MICA after transplantation in patients, irrespective of graft rejection, may be high at the time of humoral rejection and may not be elevated in cellular rejection. Understanding that MICA is preferentially localized to the glomerulus may explain both immunoregulatory and pathogenic roles for MICA after transplantation.