The impact of antibodies and virtual crossmatching on intestinal transplant outcomes

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Purpose of review

Sensitization to human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) limits access to potential donors and contributes to inferior graft survival after transplantation. In this article, we will review the effects of HLA-specific antibodies on intestinal transplant outcomes, and discuss considerations in the monitoring and treatment of anti-HLA antibodies.

Recent findings

Only a handful of studies has investigated the effects of donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies (DSAs) on intestinal allograft outcomes. Most have reported associations between DSA presence and rejection-related graft failure. The evolution of antibody detection methods and improvements in crossmatch testing have allowed for a systematic approach to the broadly sensitized transplant candidate, and facilitated the identification of compatible organ donors. The virtual crossmatch can be used to aid in organ allocation and avoid transplantation across preformed DSA. However, much remains unknown about the mechanisms of antibody-mediated injury in the intestinal graft, and the effectiveness of current therapies against DSA has yet to be established.


On the basis of available data, we will provide recommendations for the testing and management of DSA among intestinal transplant recipients. The precise management protocol should be tailored to each individual based on immunologic risk as well as clinical status.

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