B-Cell Surface Marker Analysis for Improvement of Rituximab Prophylaxis in ABO-Incompatible Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation

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Although the effectiveness of rituximab has been reported in ABO blood group (ABO)-incompatible (ABO-I) organ transplantation, the protocol is not yet established. We studied the impact of the timing of rituximab prophylaxis and the humoral immune response of patients undergoing ABO-I living donor liver transplantation (LDLT), focusing on clinicopathological findings and the B-cell subset. From July 2003 to December 2005, 30 adult patients were treated with hepatic artery infusion (HAI) protocol without splenectomy for ABO-I LDLT. A total of 17 patients were treated only with HAI (no prophylaxis), and the other 13 were treated with rituximab prophylaxis at various times prior to transplantation. For B-cell study of the spleen, another 4 patients undergoing ABO-I LDLT both with HAI after prophylaxis and eventual splenectomy, and 3 patients with ABO-compatible LDLT with splenectomy were enrolled. The mortality of the 30 patients with HAI, without splenectomy, and with/without rituximab prophylaxis was 33% and the main cause of death was sepsis. Peripheral blood B cells were completely depleted, anti-donor blood-type antibody titer was lower, and clinical and pathological antibody-mediated rejection was not observed in patients with prophylaxis earlier than 7 days before transplantation (early prophylaxis). Early rituximab prophylaxis significantly depleted B cells and memory B cells in the spleen but not in lymph nodes. On the other hand, B cells and memory B cells increased and memory B cells became dominant during antibody-mediated rejection. In conclusion, early prophylaxis with rituximab depletes B cells, including memory B cells, in the spleen and is associated with a trend toward lower humoral rejection rates and lower peak immunoglobulin (Ig)G titers in ABO-I LDLT patients. Liver Transpl 13:579–588, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.

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