We report on the management of the first full-face transplantation in a sensitized recipient with a positive preoperative crossmatch and subsequent antibody-mediated rejection (AMR). The recipient is a 45-year-old female who sustained extensive chemical burns, with residual poor function and high levels of circulating anti-HLA antibodies. With a clear immunosuppression plan and salvage options in place, a full-face allotransplant was performed using a crossmatch positive donor. Despite plasmapheresis alongside a standard induction regimen, clinical signs of rejection were noted on postoperative day 5 (POD5). Donor-specific antibody (DSA) titers rose with evidence of C4d deposits on biopsy. By POD19, biopsies showed Banff Grade III rejection. Combination therapy consisting of plasmapheresis, eculizumab, bortezomib and alemtuzumab decreased DSA levels, improved clinical exam, and by 6 months postop she had no histological signs of rejection. This case is the first to demonstrate evidence and management of AMR in face allotransplantation. Our findings lend support to the call for an update to the Banff classification of rejection in vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation (VCA) to include AMR, and for further studies to better classify the histology and mechanism of action of AMR in VCA.
This study demonstrates the presence and management of antibody-mediated rejection in a sensitized recipient of a full-face allotransplant who had a preoperative positive crossmatch.