Background: There is an increasing evidence that the presence of CD20 B cells is associated with poor clinical outcomes in acute cellular rejection (ACR), but clinical significance of CD38 B cells is undetermined. We attempted to examine the clinical significance of the CD38 B cells alone or in combination with CD20 B cells in renal transplant recipients with ACR.
Methods: Fifty-four patients with ACR were included. Biopsy specimens were stained for CD20 and CD38. The clinical outcomes of CD20 or CD38 B cells were evaluated with late-onset and repeated ACR, steroid resistance, incomplete recovery after rejection treatment, and allograft survival.
Results: Twenty-three patients (42.6%) had CD20 and 25 (46.3%) patients had CD38 B cells. Of these, 15 patients (27.8%) were positive for both CD20 and CD38 (CD20CD38). CD38 patients had higher rates of late-onset or repeated ACR and incomplete recovery compared with CD38 patients (P<0.05). The patients with CD20CD38 had a higher incomplete recovery rate than did patients with only CD20 or CD38 (P<0.05). The 5-year allograft survival was lower in CD20 and CD38 patients than in CD20 or CD38 patients (P<0.05 for each). CD20CD38 patients had lower graft survival than did patients with CD20 or CD38 alone (P<0.05).
Conclusion: Infiltration of CD38 B cells alone or in combination with CD20 B cells is a predictor for poor clinical outcomes of ACR in renal allograft.