The significance of the anti-class I antibody response. I. Clinical and pathologic features of anti-class I-mediated rejection

Transplantation. 1990 Jan;49(1):85-91. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199001000-00019.


In renal transplantation, preformed cytotoxic antibody against donor HLA class I antigens causes hyperacute rejection of renal allografts, but its pathogenic significance when it develops in the posttransplant period is unknown. In the present studies we describe the clinical and pathologic features of patients with rejection associated with anti-class I. In the course of 400 consecutive cadaveric renal transplants, 7 patients were identified who had antibody against donor class I HLA antigens in association with atypical but distinctive patterns of rejection. All 7 were presensitized. In 3 patients, the transplant had been inadvertently performed with a positive donor-specific T cell crossmatch. In the remaining 4, the T cell crossmatch on current sera was negative but became positive posttransplant. The clinical picture was deterioration of graft function with rapid onset of oliguria, apparently due to acute tubular necrosis, but with persistence of blood flow demonstrable by radioisotope scan studies. Renal histology showed that the typical lesions observed in cell-mediated rejection, such as tubulitis and interstitial infiltration, were absent. Granular complement deposition (6), polymorphonuclear infiltration (6), and endothelial injury in the microvasculature (6) were common, and mononuclear infiltrates were absent (2) or not prominent (4). In 3 patients the glomerular changes resembled a picture of hemolytic uremic syndrome, with capillary fibrin thrombi and widening of the subendothelial space. IgG staining was negative. The pathologic features suggest that anti-class I antibody appearing or persisting in the early posttransplant period injures the endothelium of the microvasculature, with the clinical presentation different from that of hyperacute rejection. Particularly in sensitized patients, rapid deterioration in function, leading to a picture of acute tubular necrosis, with pathologic features of endothelial injury in the microcirculation, should suggest the diagnosis of anti-class I-mediated rejection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibody Formation
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Kidney Tubular Necrosis, Acute / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I