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Despite numerous advances in the areas of organ preservation, histocompatibility, and immunosuppression, chronic deterioration of organ allograft function, referred to as "chronic rejection," still remains the main obstacle to long-term graft survival. The common feature of chronic rejection is a concentric generalized graft arteriosclerosis associated with interstitial fibrosis that reflects an allogeneic injury to graft arteries, possibly worsened by other alloantigen-independent risk factors. The presence of the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene-deleted (D) allele has been associated, when in homozygosity, with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and with an accelerated progression of organ damage in a variety of kidney diseases. In this study, we analyzed whether the insertion/deletion polymorphism of the ACE gene, because of its negative prognostic impact on cardiovascular and renal pathology, could have any influence on kidney graft survival in pediatric recipients.DNA was isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 146 pediatric dialysis patients (mean age: 12.9 years) who received a first kidney graft at our center between December 1985 and July 1997. To rule out any bias due to acute graft losses, only 119 patients who reached a minimum of 12 months of graft survival were considered for statistical analysis. The insertion/deletion polymorphism of the ACE gene was detected using a polymerase chain reaction technique with two flanking primers.The results demonstrated that (i) the distribution of DD and non-DD (ID + II) genotypes was 36.1% (43 patients) and 63.8% (76 patients), respectively; (ii) actuarial graft survival at 7, 8, 9, and 10 years in patients with non-DD genotype was significantly higher than that in patients with DD genotype (7 years: 94.6% vs. 72.4%, P<0.05; 8 years: 94.6% vs. 62%, P<0.025; 9 years: 87.3% vs. 51.4%, P<0.025; 10 years: 76.3% vs. 25.7%, P<0.01).In conclusion, the above data indicate that DD genotype is associated in pediatric kidney graft recipients with a shorter long-term kidney graft survival and suggest a possible role of this genotype as a cofactor in the progression of nonimmunological injuries leading to chronic kidney graft failure.