Background: We investigated the prognostic value of overall and complement-binding donor-specific HLA antibodies (DSA) in pediatric patients undergoing clinically indicated graft biopsies and their association with graft outcome and specific histological lesions.
Methods: Sera of 62 patients at time of indication biopsy ≥1 year posttransplant were assessed for DSA and C1q-fixing DSA by single-antigen bead (SAB) technology.
Results: Twenty-six patients (42 %) were DSA-positive at time of indication biopsy and nine (15 %) were C1q-positive. At 4 years postbiopsy, patients with C1q-positivity had a low graft survival (11 %) compared to DSA-positive, C1q-negative patients (82 %, p = 0.001) and to DSA-negative patients (88 %, p < 0.001). The majority (89 %) of C1q-positive patients were diagnosed with active chronic antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR). C1q DSA-positivity [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 6.35], presence of transplant glomerulopathy (HR 9.54), and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at the time of indication biopsy (HR 0.91) were risk factors for subsequent graft loss.
Conclusions: The presence of C1q-positive DSA in the context of an indication biopsy identifies a subgroup of pediatric renal transplant recipients with a markedly increased risk of subsequent graft loss. Because a fraction of DSA-positive patients escape rejection or graft dysfunction, the C1q assay increases the specificity of a positive DSA result regarding unfavorable transplant outcome.
Keywords: C1q-binding donor-specific antibodies; Donor-specific antibodies; Graft failure; Indication biopsy; Pediatrics; Renal transplantation.