Histological Analysis in ABO-Compatible and ABO-Incompatible Kidney Transplantation by Performance of 3- and 12-Month Protocol Biopsies

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ABO-incompatible (ABO-I) kidney transplantation (KTx) is an established procedure to expand living donor sources. Although graft and patient survival rates are comparable between ABO-compatible (ABO-C) and ABO-I KTx, several studies have suggested that ABO-I KTx is associated with infection. Additionally, the histological findings and incidence of antibody-mediated rejection under desensitization with rituximab and plasmapheresis remain unclear.


We reviewed 327 patients who underwent living-donor KTx without preformed donor-specific antibodies (ABO-C, n = 226; ABO-I, n = 101). Patients who underwent ABO-I KTx received 200 mg/body of rituximab and plasmapheresis, and protocol biopsy (PB) was planned at 3 and 12 months. We compared the PB findings, cumulative incidence of acute rejection in both PBs and indication biopsies, infection, and patient and graft survivals.


The 3- and 12-month PBs were performed in 85.0% and 79.2% of the patients, respectively. Subclinical acute rejection occurred in 6.9% and 9.9% of patients in the ABO-C and ABO-I groups at 3 months (P = 0.4) and in 12.4% and 10.1% at 12 months, respectively (P = 0.5). The cumulative incidence of acute rejection determined by both PBs and indication biopsies was 20.5% and 19.6%, respectively (P = 0.8). The degrees of microvascular inflammation and interstitial fibrosis/tubular atrophy were comparable. Polyomavirus BK nephropathy was found in 2.7% and 3.0% of patients in the ABO-C and ABO-I groups, respectively (P = 1.0). The incidence of other infections and the graft/patient survival rates were not different.


Analyses using 3- and 12-month PBs suggested comparable allograft pathology between ABO-C and ABO-I KTx under desensitization with low-dose rituximab and plasmapheresis.

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