Use of Eculizumab for Active Antibody-mediated Rejection That Occurs Early Post-kidney Transplantation: A Consecutive Series of 15 Cases

Transplantation. 2019 Nov;103(11):2397-2404. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000002639.


Background: Active antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) that occurs during the amnestic response within the first month posttransplant is a rare but devastating cause of early allograft loss after kidney transplant. Prior reports of eculizumab treatment for AMR have been in heterogeneous patient groups needing salvage therapy or presenting at varied time points. We investigated the role of eculizumab as primary therapy for active AMR early posttransplant.

Methods: We performed a retrospective observational study of a consecutive cohort of solitary kidney transplant recipients who were transplanted between January 1, 2014, and January 31, 2018, and had AMR within the first 30 days posttransplant and treated with eculizumab ± plasmapheresis.

Results: Fifteen patients had early active AMR at a median (interquartile range [IQR]) of 10 (7-11) days posttransplant and were treated with eculizumab ± plasmapheresis. Thirteen cases were biopsy proven, and 2 cases were presumed on the basis of donor-specific antibody trends and allograft function. Within 1 week of treatment, the median estimated glomerular filtration rate increased from 21 to 34 mL/min (P = 0.001); and persistent active AMR was only found in 16.7% (2/12) of biopsied patients within 4-6 months. No graft losses occurred, and at last follow-up (median [IQR] of 13 [12-19] mo), the median IQR estimated glomerular filtration rate increased to 52 (46-60) mL/min.

Conclusions: Prompt eculizumab treatment as primary therapy is safe and effective for early active AMR after kidney transplant or abrupt increases in donor-specific antibodies when biopsy cannot be performed for diagnosis confirmation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allografts
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Biopsy
  • Complement Inactivating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Graft Rejection / drug therapy*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Isoantibodies / immunology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Complement Inactivating Agents
  • Isoantibodies
  • eculizumab