Hyperacute rejections of two consecutive renal allografts and early loss of the third transplant caused by non-HLA antibodies specific for endothelial cells

Transpl Immunol. 1997 Dec;5(4):321-7. doi: 10.1016/s0966-3274(97)80016-0.


The immunological rejection of HLA-identical kidney transplants indicates that non-HLA antigens may also be targets for transplant rejection. Interest in the possible role of endothelial specific antigens has grown steadily over the years. Most of the studies published, regarding the association of such antibodies with rejection, have demonstrated the reactivity of endothelial antibodies also with monocytes and keratinocytes, but not with lymphocytes. Such antibodies escape detection in conventional crossmatch tests. In this paper, we present a case report of a 10-year-old girl, whose two consecutive kidney allografts, (one living and one cadaveric donor) were hyperacutely rejected in spite of the fact that she had neither been alloimmunized, nor had any HLA-specific antibodies. Endothelial cell specific antibodies were detected in vivo and in vitro after transplantation only 11 days apart, which were considered to be responsible for rejection. The third cadaveric kidney was lost within 1 week post-transplant. Immunopathological investigation of the three rejected grafts revealed deposition of IgM in the endothelium of arteries and in some glomeruli. No deposition of IgG antibodies was found. Antibodies from this patient did not react with lymphocytes, monocytes or keratinocytes. Patient serum had IgM antibodies that were specifically reactive with cultured endothelial cells, demonstrated by binding in vitro and by complement-dependent cytotoxicity of IL-beta stimulated endothelial cells. No HLA antibodies were found following the first two transplantations, but were demonstrated 1 week after the third transplantation, at the time of an acute irreversible rejection. Western blots of proteins solubilized from endothelial cell membranes, indicated that the antibodies reacted with a 97-110 kD protein. Endothelial cell antigen preparations were made from several different umbilical cord veins. Some primary cell cultures, but not all, reacted with the patient's serum. Therefore, we suggest that the target determinant might be polymorphic. These findings imply that the non-HLA endothelial cell specific molecules may function as target(s) for hyperacute antibody-mediated destruction of kidney allografts.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Specificity
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cadaver
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Endothelium / immunology
  • Endothelium / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / physiopathology
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / immunology*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Transplantation* / immunology
  • Plasmapheresis
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Umbilical Veins


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin M