Pre-transplant donor HLA-specific antibodies: characteristics causing detrimental effects on survival after lung transplantation

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2014 Oct;33(10):1074-82. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2014.02.033. Epub 2014 May 17.


Background: The impact of Luminex-detected HLA antibodies on outcomes after lung transplantation is unclear. Herein we have undertaken a retrospective study of pre-transplant sera from 425 lung transplants performed between 1991 and 2003.

Methods: Pre-transplant sera, originally screened by complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) assays, were retrospectively tested for the presence of HLA-specific antibodies using HLA-coated Luminex beads and C4d deposition on Luminex beads. The results were correlated with graft survival at 1 year.

Results: Twenty-seven patients were retrospectively identified as having been transplanted against donor-specific HLA antibodies (DSA) and 36 patients against non-donor-specific HLA antibodies (NDSA). DSA-positive patients had 1-year survival of 51.9% compared with 77.8% for NDSA and 71.8% for antibody-negative patients (p = 0.029). One-year survival of patients with complement-fixing DSA was 12.5% compared with 62.5% for non-complement-fixing DSA, 75.8% for non-complement-fixing NDSA and 71.8% for antibody-negative patients (p < 0.0001). DSA-positive patients with mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) >5,000 had 1-year survival of 33.3% compared with 71.4% for MFI 2,000 to 5000 and 62.5% for MFI <2,000 (p = 0.0046). Multivariable analysis revealed DSA to be an independent predictor of poor patient survival within 1 year (p = 0.0010, hazard ratio [HR] = 3.569) as well as complement-fixing DSA (p < 0.0001, HR = 11.083) and DSA with MFI >5,000 (p = 0.0001, HR = 5.512).

Conclusions: Pre-formed DSA, particularly complement-fixing DSA, and high MFI are associated with poor survival within the first year after lung transplantation. Risk stratification according to complement fixation or MFI levels may allow for increased transplantation in sensitized patients.

Keywords: HLA; Luminex-xmap; MFI; Pre-transplant; donor-specific antibodies; lung transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allografts
  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / mortality
  • HLA Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Diseases / surgery
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Preoperative Period*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Tissue Donors*


  • Antibodies
  • HLA Antigens