Background: Rejection is responsible for just under 50% of graft loss in the pediatric kidney transplant population. Early identification and treatment of allograft injury, specifically modifiable pathologies such as subclinical rejection (SCR), calcineurin inhibitor toxicity, and BK virus nephropathy, may improve allograft survival. Protocol surveillance biopsy (SB) currently offers the earliest opportunity for targeted interventions.
Methods: This is a single-center retrospective review of 215 kidney SBs obtained from 2008 to 2016 in 97 pediatric kidney transplant recipients. SBs were obtained at 6, 12, and 24 months post-transplantation. Frequency of abnormal histologic findings, estimated glomerular filtration rate at time of SB, and SB-related complications were recorded. Data were analyzed to investigate possible time trends and the presence of demographic or clinical associations with abnormal histologic findings.
Results: Potentially modifiable histologic findings were seen in 38.1% of all SBs. SCR was found with increasing frequency across all time points with an estimated 49% increase in the odds of a SCR finding per additional 6 months post-transplantation (aOR 1.49, 95% CI 1.06-2.09, p = 0.022). Among follow-up biopsies in patients who underwent treatment for SCR, 50% had no SCR and 18.8% showed histologic improvement. The complication rate associated with SB was 1.9% (4/215 SBs) and consisted of only minor complications.
Conclusions: SBs are safe and offer the opportunity to identify and treat modifiable histologic changes in the pediatric kidney transplant population. The performance of SBs for up to 2 years after transplantation can have meaningful clinical impact.
Keywords: Calcineurin inhibitor toxicity; Interstitial fibrosis; Kidney; Pediatrics; Subclinical rejection; Surveillance biopsies; Transplant.