The definition of biological donor organ age rather than chronological age seems obvious for the establishment of a valid pre-transplant risk assessment. Therefore, we studied gene expression for candidate markers in 60 zero-hour kidney biopsies. Compared with 29 younger donors under age 55, 31 elderly donors age 55 and older had significant mRNA expression for immunoproteasome subunits (PSMB8, PSMB9 and PSMB10), HLA-DRB, and transcripts of the activating cytotoxicity receptor NKG2D. Gene expression was validated in an independent donor cohort consisting of 37 kidneys from donors 30 years and under (Group I), 75 kidneys from donors age 31-54 years (Group II) and 75 kidneys from donors age 55 and older (Group III). Significant gene induction was confirmed in kidneys from Group III for PSMB9 and PSMB10. Strikingly, transcripts of NKG2D had the significantly highest gene induction in Group III versus Group II and Group I. Similar results were obtained for CDKN2A, but not for telomere length. Both NKG2D and CDKN2A mRNA expression were significantly correlated with creatinine levels at 24 months after transplantation. Univariate regression analysis showed significant predictive power regarding graft function at 6 and 12 months for NKG2D and CDKN2A. However, only NKG2D remained significantly predictive in the multivariate model at 12 months. Thus, our results reveal novel candidate markers in aged renal allografts, which could be helpful in the assessment of organ quality.
Keywords: NKG2D; kidney; senescence; zero-hour biopsy.
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