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.