ANALYSIS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHIMERISM AND THE ALLOGENEIC HUMORAL RESPONSE1

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Abstract

Background.

Persistence of antigens has been suggested to play a role in two opposing immunological phenomena: tolerance and memory. Therefore, we studied the impact of chimerism on alloreactive antibody (allo-Ab) production in kidney transplant patients.

Methods.

Thirty-five female renal transplant recipients of male donor organs were classified into the following groups: group 1, 13 sensitized uremic patients on dialysis; group 2, 5 nonsensitized uremic patients on dialysis; group 3, six sensitized patients experiencing graft rejection (3 acute vascular, 1 acute cellular, and 2 chronic); and group 4, 11 nonsensitized with functioning allografts (9 with good function, 1 with acute cellular rejection, and 1 with chronic rejection). Mean duration of dialysis after graft failure was similar in groups 1 (56±29.7 months) and 2 (41.8±42.4 months), as was dialysis efficiency. Chimerism was measured indirectly in the peripheral blood lymphocytes by polymerase chain reaction amplification of a specific Y chromosome DNA gene sequence with a detection sensitivity limit of 1 male cell per 1 million female cells. Allo-Ab production was measured by the PRA-STAT enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Sangstat) method.

Results.

Chimerism was observed in 60% of groups 1 and 2, 83% of group 3, and 82% of group 4. Among all groups, graft existence, irrespective of its function, positively predicted chimerism in 92% with a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 78%. In group 3, all three patients with acute vascular rejection had chimerism and donor-specific allo-Abs. In group 4, eight of the nine patients with no rejection had chimerism.

Conclusion.

Chimerism relates to persistence of allogeneic stimulus irrespective of its function. Chimerism did not confer protection against allo-Ab production or vascular rejection, and its existence was not crucial for sustenance of allo-Ab production.

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