Timely detection of graft rejection is an important issue in the follow-up care after solid organ transplantation. Until now, biopsy has been considered the “gold standard” in the diagnosis of graft rejection. However, non-invasive tests such as monitoring the levels of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) as a sensitive biomarker for graft integrity have attracted increasing interest. The rationale of this approach is that a rejected organ will lead to a significant release of donor-derived cfDNA, which can be detected in the serum of the transplant recipient.Methods:
We have developed a novel quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) approach for detecting an increase of donor-derived cfDNA in the recipient's serum. Common insertion/deletion (InDel) genetic polymorphisms, which differ between donor and recipient, are targeted in our qPCR assay. In contrast to some other strategies, no specific donor/recipient constellations such as certain gender combinations or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) discrepancies are required for the application of our test.Results:
The method was first validated with serial dilutions of serum mixtures obtained from healthy blood donors and then used to determine donor-derived cfDNA levels in patients' sera within the first 3 days after their kidney transplantation had been performed.Conclusions:
Our method represents a universally applicable, simple and cost-effective tool which can potentially be used to detect graft dysfunction in transplant recipients.