2012 annual literature review of donor-specific HLA antibodies after organ transplantation

Clin Transpl. 2012;207-17.


From the articles reviewed in the present chapter, we observed: 1. The frequency of de novo donor-specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies (DSA) detection in different organs is very similar: ranging between 15% and 23% in kidney, 23% in pancreas, and 18% in intestinal transplant patients. Apparently, all organs can elicit humoral responses after transplantation at comparable rates. 2. Although rates of de novo DSA formation after kidney transplantation are very similar across different centers--between 15% and 23%--, the mean time to the first detection of de novo DSA is markedly variable between centers (from 8 months to 4 years). Some differences found in the studies that may account for this could be the age of patients (studies including pediatric patients tend to show longer time to DSA detection compared to studies only including adults patients), patients' race, and maintenance immunosuppression regimens. 3. In most organs, alloantibodies against class II HLA--and especially against HLA-DQ antigens--are the most common DSA detected. This finding supports previous studies, but the explanation remains unclear. Poor HLA-DQ matching, paucity of class II HLA antigen expression on cell surface, and technical factors related to the detection of these antibodies (mean fluorescence intensity cutoff, multiple beads with the same antigen, denatured protein on single antigen beads) are some of the potential explanations that need further investigation. 4. Recent focus on histological changes during rejection in the presence of DSA that are independent of C4d deposition may change how antibody-mediated rejection is diagnosed in the near future. 5. More studies are looking into the importance of DSA in non-kidney transplants and now evidence shows that DSA may not only affect survival and rejection rates, but may also be associated with organ-specific lesions like fibrosis and biliary complications in livers or capillaritis in lungs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • HLA Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Isoantibodies / immunology*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Transplantation Immunology / immunology*


  • HLA Antigens
  • Isoantibodies