Donor-specific antibodies and antibody-mediated rejection in vascularized composite allotransplantation

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Purpose of review

The presence of donor-specific antibodies (DSA) increases the risk of graft failure. Although DSA characteristics, human leukocyte antigen class specificity, mean fluorescence intensity and immunoglobulin G subclasses, and their impact on the graft are quite well studied in solid organ transplants, very little information is known about their impact on vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA). The aim of this review is to highlight recent publications regarding occurrence and effects of DSA, their follow-up and treatment in the field of VCA.

Recent findings

The latest publications dealing with antibody-mediated rejection in VCA are mainly case presentations and reports embedded in reviews. The most important findings shown were the demonstration of the severe clinical impact of de-novo DSA and the urgent need of finding a therapeutic strategy for patients with acute antibody-mediated rejection. Suggested protocols for desensitization of possible candidates for reconstructive transplantation have been published, as these individuals are often highly sensitized and not appropriate patients for a standard surgical procedure because of their major tissue defects.


The functional outcome of reconstructive transplantation has clearly exceeded the results achieved with conventional surgical techniques. The recipients’ immune response, particularly development of DSA and the long-term adherence, which is probably associated with the occurrence of chronic rejection, remain a challenge.

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