Infusion of High-Dose Intravenous Immunoglobulin Fails to Lower the Strength of Human Leukocyte Antigen Antibodies in Highly Sensitized Patients

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BackgroundHuman leukocyte antigen (HLA) sensitization presents a major obstacle for patients awaiting renal transplantation. HLA antibody reduction and favorable transplantation rates have been reported after treatment with high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg).MethodsWe enrolled 27 patients whose median flow cytometric calculated panel reactive antibody (CPRA) was 100% and mean wait-list time exceeded 4 years in a protocol whereby high-dose IVIg was administered, HLA antibody profiles of sera obtained before and after treatment were characterized, and cross-match tests were performed with all blood group identical kidney offers.ResultsWhereas 12.8% of a similarly sensitized historic control cohort underwent transplantation in the course of a year, 41% of the IVIg-treated group underwent transplantation during the study period. Surprisingly, HLA antibody profiles, measured by CPRA, showed no significant change in response to IVIg treatment. In fact, retrospective cross-match testing using pretreatment sera of those receiving deceased-donor allografts showed that all patients would have been eligible for transplantation with their respective donors before IVIg infusions.ConclusionsThis study does not corroborate previous reports of CPRA reduction leading to increased deceased-donor transplantation rates in broadly sensitized patients undergoing desensitization with high-dose IVIg. The increased rate of transplantation relative to historic controls is not related to improved cross-match eligibility and likely resulted from frequent crossmatching using a cytotoxic strength threshold, improved medical readiness for transplantation, and newly recognized options for live-donor transplantation, all of which could have been achieved without IVIg treatment.

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