An Analysis of the Association between Serum Citrulline and Acute Rejection among 26 Recipients of Intestinal Transplant

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Small preliminary studies suggest that serum citrulline levels may act as a marker for acute cellular rejection in small intestinal transplant recipients. The results comparing serum citrulline concentrations with biopsy-based grades of rejection are summarized here for an expanded group of 26 isolated intestinal and multivisceral transplant recipients. Other factors considered included patient and donor age and sex, ischemia time, serum creatinine, and type of transplant. Straight-line fits reasonably described how each patient's citrulline levels changed over time. Among 21 patients who demonstrated increasing citrulline levels over time, the estimated median time-to-achieve normal citrulline (≥30 μmol/L) was 79 days post-transplant. Using stepwise linear regression, two characteristics were associated with a significantly higher maximum grade of rejection after 14 d post-transplant: longer time-to-achieve normal citrulline (using ranks, p < 0.00001) and the patient not receiving a multivisceral transplant (p = 0.0005). Only the latter characteristic was significantly associated with maximum grade of rejection during the first 14 d post-transplant (p = 0.01). Clearly, time-to-normalization of citrulline was delayed by the incidence of rejection, and in some cases with moderate-to-severe rejection, normalization of citrulline levels never occurred. We plan to further examine the use of citrulline as a marker for rejection in larger prospective studies.

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