Histologic assessment of kidney transplant biopsies relies on cortex rather than medulla, but for microarray studies, the proportion cortex in a biopsy is typically unknown and could affect the molecular readings. The present study aimed to develop a molecular estimate of proportion cortex in biopsies and examine its effect on molecular diagnoses. Microarrays from 26 kidney transplant biopsies divided into cortex and medulla components and processed separately showed that many of the most significant differences were in glomerular genes (e.g. NPHS2, NPHS1, CLIC5, PTPRO, PLA2R1, PLCE1, PODXL, and REN). Using NPHS2 (podocin) to estimate proportion cortex, we examined whether proportion cortex influenced molecular assessment in the molecular microscope diagnostic system. In 1190 unselected kidney transplant indication biopsies (Clinicaltrials.govNCT01299168), only 11% had <50% cortex. Molecular scores for antibody-mediated rejection, T cell-mediated rejection, and injury were independent of proportion cortex. Rejection was diagnosed in many biopsies that were mostly or all medulla. Agreement in molecular diagnoses in paired cortex/medulla samples (23/26) was similar to biological replicates (32/37). We conclude that NPHS2 expression can estimate proportion cortex; that proportion cortex has little influence on molecular diagnosis of rejection; and that, although histology cannot assess medulla, rejection does occur in medulla as well as cortex.
Keywords: biopsy; clinical research/practice; kidney biology; kidney transplantation/nephrology; microarray/gene array; molecular biology; molecular biology: mRNA/mRNA expression; rejection.
© 2017 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.