Cell-Free DNA: An Upcoming Biomarker in Transplantation

Am J Transplant. 2015 Oct;15(10):2541-51. doi: 10.1111/ajt.13387. Epub 2015 Jul 16.


After organ transplantation, donor-derived cell-free DNA (ddcfDNA) can be detected in the recipient's blood and urine. Different ddcfDNA quantification techniques have been investigated but a major breakthrough was made with the introduction of digital droplet PCR and massive parallel sequencing creating the opportunity to increase the understanding of ddcfDNA kinetics after transplantation. The observations of increased levels of ddcfDNA during acute rejection and even weeks to months before histologic features of graft rejection point to a possible role of ddcfDNA as an early, noninvasive rejection marker. In this review, we summarize published research on ddcfDNA in the transplantation field thereby elaborating on its clinical utility.

Keywords: biomarker; clinical research/practice; kidney transplantation/nephrology; molecular biology; molecular biology: DNA; organ transplantation in general; rejection: acute; translational research/science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cell-Free System
  • DNA / blood*
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • Graft Rejection / blood
  • Graft Rejection / diagnosis*
  • Graft Rejection / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Tissue Donors


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA