Banff survey on antibody-mediated rejection clinical practices in kidney transplantation: Diagnostic misinterpretation has potential therapeutic implications

Am J Transplant. 2019 Jan;19(1):123-131. doi: 10.1111/ajt.14979. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


The aim of this study was to determine how the Banff antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR) classification for kidney transplantation is interpreted in practice and affects therapy. The Banff Antibody-Mediated Injury Workgroup electronically surveyed clinicians and pathologists worldwide regarding diagnosis and treatment for 6 case-based scenarios. The participants' (95 clinicians and 72 renal pathologists) assigned diagnoses were compared to the Banff intended diagnoses (reference standard). The assigned diagnoses and reference standard differed by 26.1% (SD 28.1%) for pathologists and 34.5% (SD 23.3%) for clinicians. The greatest discordance between the reference standard and clinicians' diagnosis was when histologic features of ABMR were present but donor-specific antibody was undetected (49.4% [43/87]). For pathologists, the greatest discordance was in the case of acute/active ABMR C4d staining negative in a positive crossmatch transplant recipient (33.8% [23/68]). Treatment approaches were heterogeneous but linked to the assigned diagnosis. When acute/active ABMR was diagnosed by the clinician, treatment was recommended 95.3% (SD 18.4%) of the time vs only 77.7% (SD 39.2%) of the time when chronic active ABMR was diagnosed (P < .0001). In conclusion, the Banff ABMR classification is vulnerable to misinterpretation, which potentially has patient management implications. Continued efforts are needed to improve the understanding and standardized application of ABMR classification in the transplant community.

Keywords: classification systems: Banff classification; clinical decision making; clinical research/practice; kidney transplantation/nephrology; rejection: antibody-mediated (ABMR).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Blood Grouping and Crossmatching
  • Complement C4b
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Graft Rejection / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Isoantibodies*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Nephrology / standards
  • Observer Variation
  • Pathology / standards*
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Isoantibodies
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Complement C4b
  • complement C4d