Background: Apheresis-based desensitization allows for successful transplantation across major immunological barriers. For donor-specific antibody (DSA)- and/or crossmatch-positive transplantation, however, it has been shown that even intense immunomodulation may not completely prevent antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR).
Methods: In this study, we evaluated transplant outcomes in 101 DSA+ deceased donor kidney transplant recipients (transplantation between 2009 and 2013; median follow-up: 24 months) who were subjected to immunoadsorption (IA)-based desensitization. Treatment included a single pre-transplant IA session, followed by anti-lymphocyte antibody and serial post-transplant IA. In 27 cases, a positive complement-dependent cytotoxicity crossmatch (CDCXM) was rendered negative immediately before transplantation. Seventy-four of the DSA+ recipients had a negative CDCXM already before IA.
Results: Three-year death-censored graft survival in DSA+ patients was significantly worse than in 513 DSA- recipients transplanted during the same period (79 versus 88%, P = 0.008). Thirty-three DSA+ recipients (33%) had ABMR. While a positive baseline CDCXM showed only a trend towards higher ABMR rates (41 versus 30% in CDCXM- recipients, P = 0.2), DSA mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) in single bead assays significantly associated with rejection, showing 20 versus 71% ABMR rates at <5000 versus >15 000 peak DSA MFI. The predictive value of MFI was moderate, with the highest accuracy at a median of 13 300 MFI (after cross-validation: 0.72). Other baseline variables, including CDC assay results, human leukocyte antigen mismatch, prior transplantation or type of induction treatment, did not add independent predictive information.
Conclusions: IA-based desensitization failed to prevent ABMR in a considerable number of DSA+ recipients. Assessing DSA MFI may help stratify risk of rejection, supporting its use as a guide to organ allocation and individualized treatment.
Keywords: antibody-mediated rejection; crossmatch; donor-specific antibodies; immunoadsorption; kidney transplantation.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA. All rights reserved.