Complement inhibition for prevention of antibody-mediated rejection in immunologically high-risk heart allograft recipients

Am J Transplant. 2021 Jul;21(7):2479-2488. doi: 10.1111/ajt.16420. Epub 2021 Feb 11.


Allosensitization represents a major barrier to heart transplantation (HTx). We assessed the efficacy and safety of complement inhibition at transplant in highly sensitized heart transplant recipients. We performed a single-center, single-arm, open-label trial (NCT02013037). Patients with panel reactive antibodies (PRA) ≥70% and pre-formed donor-specific antibodies (DSA) were eligible. In addition to standard of care, patients received nine infusions of eculizumab during the first 2 months posttransplant. The primary composite endpoint was antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) ≥pAMR2 and/or left ventricular dysfunction during the first year. Secondary endpoints included hemodynamic compromise, allograft rejection, and patient survival. Twenty patients were included. Median cPRA and mean fluorescence intensity of immunodominant DSA were 95% (90%-97%) and 6250 (5000-10 000), respectively. Retrospective B cell and T cell flow crossmatches were positive in 14 and 11 patients, respectively. The primary endpoint occurred in four patients (20%). Survival at 1 year was 90% with no deaths resulting from AMR. In a prespecified analysis comparing treated patients to matched control patients, we observed a dramatic reduction in the risk of biopsy-proven AMR in patients treated with eculizumab (HR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.14-0.95, p = .032). Our findings support the prophylactic use of complement inhibition for heart transplantation at high immunological risk., NCT02013037.

Keywords: clinical research/practice; clinical trial; heart (allograft) function/dysfunction; heart transplantation/cardiology; immunosuppressant - fusion proteins and monoclonal antibodies; immunosuppression/immune modulation; rejection: antibody-mediated (ABMR); sensitization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Graft Rejection / etiology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • HLA Antigens
  • Humans
  • Isoantibodies*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • HLA Antigens
  • Isoantibodies

Associated data