In this cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of mapping the T-cell repertoire in kidney transplant recipients, we have investigated and validated T-cell clonality, immune repertoire chronology at rejection, and contemporaneous allograft biopsy quantitative tissue injury, to better understand the pathobiology of acute T-cell fraction, T-cell repertoire and antibody-mediated kidney transplant rejection. To follow the dynamic evolution of T-cell repertoire changes before and after engraftment and during biopsy-confirmed acute rejection, we sequenced 323 peripheral blood samples from 200 unique kidney transplant recipients, with (n=100) and without (n=100) biopsy-confirmed acute rejection. We report that patients who develop acute allograft rejection, have lower (p=0.01) T-cell fraction even before transplantation, followed by its rise after transplantation and at the time of acute rejection accompanied by high TCR repertoire turnover (p=0.004). Acute rejection episodes occurring after the first 6 months post-transplantation, and those with a component of antibody-mediated rejection, had the highest turnover; p=0.0016) of their T-cell repertoire. In conclusion, we validated that detecting repertoire changes in kidney transplantation correlates with post-transplant rejection episodes suggesting that T-cell receptor sequencing may provide recipient pre-transplant and post-transplant predictors of rejection risk.
Keywords: T cell-mediated rejection; TCR sequencing; acute rejection; antibody-mediated rejection; immune repertoire; kidney transplantation.
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