Pretransplant HLA Antibodies Are Associated with Reduced Graft Survival After Clinical Islet Transplantation

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Despite significant improvements in islet transplantation, long-term graft function is still not optimal. It is likely that both immune and nonimmune factors are involved in the deterioration of islet function over time. Historically, the pretransplant T-cell crossmatch and antibody screening were done by anti-human globulin—complement-dependent cytotoxicity (AHG-CDC). Class II antibodies were not evaluated. In 2003, we introduced solid-phase antibody screening using flow-based beads and flow crossmatching. We were interested to know whether pretransplant human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies or a positive flow crossmatch impacted islet function post-transplant. A total of 152 islet transplants was performed in 81 patients. Islet function was determined by a positive C-peptide. Results were analyzed by procedure. Class I and class II panel reactive antibody (PRA) > 15% and donor-specific antibodies (DSA) were associated with a reduced C-peptide survival (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001, respectively). A positive T- and or B-cell crossmatch alone was not. Pretransplant HLA antibodies detectable by flow beads are associated with reduced graft survival. This suggests that the sirolimus and low-dose tacrolimus-based immunosuppression may not control the alloimmune response in this presensitized population and individuals with a PRA > 15% may require more aggressive inductive and maintenance immunosuppression, or represent a group that may not benefit from islet transplantation.

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