Ischemia/reperfusion injury in human kidney transplantation: an immunohistochemical analysis of changes after reperfusion

Am J Pathol. 1998 Aug;153(2):557-66. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65598-8.


Organs used for transplantation undergo varying degrees of cold ischemia and reperfusion injury after transplantation. In renal transplantation, prolonged cold ischemia is strongly associated with delayed graft function, an event that contributes to inferior graft survival. At present, the pathophysiological changes associated with ischemia/reperfusion injury in clinical renal transplantation are poorly understood. We have performed an immunohistochemical analysis of pre- and postreperfusion biopsies obtained from cadaver (n = 55) and living/related donor (LRD) (n = 11) renal allografts using antibodies to adhesion molecules and leukocyte markers to investigate the intragraft changes after cold preservation and reperfusion. Neutrophil infiltration and P-selectin expression were detected after reperfusion in 29 of 55 (53%) and 24 of 55 (44%) cadaver renal allografts, respectively. In marked contrast, neutrophil infiltration was not observed in LRD allografts, and only 1 of 11 (9%) had an increased level of P-selectin after reperfusion. Immunofluorescent double-staining demonstrated that P-selectin expression resulted from platelet deposition and not from endothelial activation. No statistically significant association was observed between neutrophil infiltration and P-selectin expression in the glomeruli or intertubular capillaries despite the large number of cadaver renal allografts with postreperfusion changes. Neutrophil infiltration into the glomeruli was significantly associated with long cold ischemia times and delayed graft function. Elevated serum creatinine levels at 3 and 6 months after transplantation were also associated with the presence of neutrophils and platelets after reperfusion. Our results suggest that graft function may be influenced by early inflammatory events after reperfusion, which can be targeted for future therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • E-Selectin / biosynthesis
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Kidney / immunology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology
  • Kidney Transplantation / pathology*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • P-Selectin / biosynthesis
  • Reperfusion Injury / immunology
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis


  • E-Selectin
  • P-Selectin
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1