Survival in sensitized lung transplant recipients with perioperative desensitization

Am J Transplant. 2015 Feb;15(2):417-26. doi: 10.1111/ajt.13076.


Donor-specific HLA antibodies (DSA) have an adverse effect on short-term and long-term lung transplant outcomes. We implemented a perioperative strategy to treat DSA-positive recipients, leading to equivalent rejection and graft survival outcomes. Pretransplant DSA were identified to HLA-A, B, C, DR and DQ antigens. DSA-positive patients were transplanted if panel reactive antibody (PRA) ≥30% or medically urgent and desensitized with perioperative plasma exchange, intravenous immune globulin, antithymocyte globulin (ATG), and mycophenolic acid (MPA). PRA-positive/DSA-negative recipients received MPA. Unsensitized patients received routine cyclosporine, azathioprine and prednisone without ATG. From 2008-2011, 340 lung-only first transplants were performed: 53 DSA-positive, 93 PRA-positive/DSA-negative and 194 unsensitized. Thirty-day survival was 96 %/99%/96% in the three groups, respectively. One-year graft survival was 89%/88%/86% (p = 0.47). DSA-positive and PRA-positive/DSA-negative patients were less likely to experience any ≥ grade 2 acute rejection (9% and 9% vs. 18% unsensitized p = 0.04). Maximum predicted forced expiratory volume (1 s) (81%/74%/76%, p = NS) and predicted forced vital capacity (81%/77%/78%, respectively, p = NS) were equivalent between groups. With the application of this perioperative treatment protocol, lung transplantation can be safely performed in DSA/PRA-positive patients, with similar outcomes to unsensitized recipients.

Keywords: alloantibody; clinical research/practice; desensitization; histocompatibility; lung disease; lung transplantation/pulmonology; patient survival; rejection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / therapeutic use
  • Canada
  • Cohort Studies
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Graft Survival / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Lung / surgery
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplant Recipients*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vital Capacity / physiology


  • Antilymphocyte Serum
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Mycophenolic Acid