The reasons for the increased incidence ofde novoanti–human leukocyte antibody (HLA) donor-specific antibodies (DSAs) observed after kidney allograft nephrectomy are not fully understood. One advocated mechanism suggests that at graft loss, DSAs are not detected in the serum because they are fixed on the nonfunctional transplant; removal of the kidney allows DSAs to then appear in the blood circulation. The aim of our study was to compare anti-HLA antibodies present in the serum and in the graft at the time of an allograft nephrectomy. Using solid-phase assays, anti-HLA antibodies were searched for in the sera of 17 kidney transplant patients undergoing allograft nephrectomy. No anti-HLA antibodies were detected in the graft if they were not also detected in the serum. Eleven of the 12 patients who had DSAs detected in their sera also had DSAs detected in the grafts. Epitopic analysis revealed that most anti-HLA antibodies detected in removed grafts were directed against the donor. In summary, our data show that all anti-HLA antibodies that were detected in grafts were also detected in the sera. These intragraft anti-HLA antibodies are mostly directed against the donor at an epitopic level but not always at an antigenic level.
Analysis of anti-HLA antibodies eluted from a failed kidney allograft reveals that these antibodies are also in the sera and directed against the donor epitopes.