Donor-Specific Anti-HLA Antibodies and Endothelial C4d Deposition—Association With Chronic Liver Allograft Failure

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BackgroundThe significance of humoral immune response for allograft survival after liver transplantation (LT) is still a matter of debate. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess immunological and clinical factors associated with advanced fibrosis (F3-F4) and chronic graft failure in LT recipients.MethodsSerum samples from 174 patients prospectively enrolled and followed up for 12 months were tested for anti-HLA antibodies and compared against donor HLA types. Immunohistochemical C4d staining was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded liver tissue.ResultsMean time period from LT to enrollment was 66.9 ± 51.9 months. Independent predictive factors for graft failure included donor-positive cytomegalovirus serostatus (P = 0.02), donor-specific antibodies (DSA) against HLA class II (P = 0.03), donor age (P = 0.01), hepatitis C virus allograft reinfection (P = 0.0008), and biliary complications (P = 0.003). HLA class II DSA and HLA class I antibody positivity, hepatitis C virus reinfection, and mycophenolate mofetil-free regimens were significant risk factors for advanced fibrosis after LT. There was a significant association between C4d deposition on allograft endothelial cells and presence of class II DSA (P < 0.0001). Patients with C4d deposits had a 4.3 times higher risk of graft failure than those with negative staining and a significantly lower median time to graft failure (94.6 months [range, 3.6-158.9 months] vs 176.4 months [range, 9.4-217.8 months], P < 0.0001).ConclusionsScreening for HLA DSA might be useful for early identification of LT recipients at increased risk of graft failure who could benefit from closer surveillance and tailored immunosuppressive regimens.

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