Pivotal Role of Complement-Fixing HLA Alloantibodies in Presensitized Kidney Allograft Recipients

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Abstract

Recipient presensitization represents a major risk factor for kidney allograft loss. Complement fixation may be a critical attribute of deleterious alloantibodies. We investigated clinical impact of complement-fixing HLA presensitization employing [C4d]FlowPRA, a novel assay permitting selective detection of HLA panel reactive antibody (PRA)-triggered C4 complement split product deposition. A cohort of 338 kidney transplants was evaluated for presensitization applying [C4d]FlowPRA together with [IgG]FlowPRA and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC)-PRA. Analysis of HLA class I alloreactivities revealed a high incidence of C4d-positive graft dysfunction in [IgG]FlowPRA(+)/[C4d]FlowPRA(+) and [IgG]FlowPRA(+)/[C4d]FlowPRA(−) recipients (23% and 22% vs. 3% in [IgG]FlowPRA(−) patients). Only patients with complement-fixing HLA class I immunization had inferior graft survival [75% (3 years) vs. 91% and 89%, respectively (p = 0.036)]. Despite frequent finding of capillary C4d deposition (28%), complement-fixing HLA class II immunization was not associated with inferior survival rates. This may have been due to reduction of clinical effects by intense immunosuppression in presensitized patients. Evaluating CDC, 29% of CDC-PRA(+)/[C4d]FlowPRA(+) recipients had C4d-positive graft dysfunction. For these patients 3-year graft survival was worst, followed by CDC-PRA(+)/[C4d]FlowPRA(−) and CDC-PRA(−) patients (76% vs. 81% vs. 90%, p = 0.014). Results highlight a strong impact of complement-fixing HLA presensitization. Discerning complement-activating abilities of HLA alloantibodies, [C4d]FlowPRA may help identify recipients at particularly high risk for graft rejection and loss.

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