Background: There is an increasing number of anti-HLA sensitized and highly sensitized renal transplant candidates on waiting lists, and the presence of donor-specific alloantibodies (DSAs) at the time of transplantation leads to acute and chronic antibody-mediated rejection (AMR). Acceptable short-term outcomes have been described, notably because of desensitization protocols, but mid- and long-term data are still required.
Methods: Our high immunologic risk program included 95 patients with high peak or day 0 DSA levels (mean fluorescence intensity [MFI] > 3000) with a complement-dependent cytotoxicity-negative crossmatch, who received a posttransplant desensitization protocol starting at day 0 with high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin, plasma exchanges, and eventually rituximab. Their characteristics were compared with a control group including 39 patients with a lower immunologic risk (MFI between 500 and 3000 at day 0) who received the same posttransplant desensitization.
Results: The median MFI of the immunodominant class I or II DSA in the peak or day 0 serum was 9421 (interquartile range, 4959-12 610). An AMR occurred during the first posttransplant year in 31 patients (32.6%), and at one year, the rate of chronic AMR was 39.5%. The 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-year death-censored allograft survival rates were 98%, 91%, 86%, and 78%, respectively, with concomitant recipient survival rates of 97%, 93%, 85%, and 79%, respectively.
Conclusions: These results suggest that DSA-sensitized patients with high MFI levels can receive transplantation across the HLA-barrier, with the use of an intensified posttransplant immunosuppressive therapy starting at day 0 combined with close clinical, immunologic, and histologic monitoring.