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Recurrent sarcoidosis in lung transplant allografts: granulomas are of recipient origin.

INTRODUCTION: Sarcoidosis accounts for only 2.8% of lung transplants in the United States. It is, however, the most commonly reported disease to recur after lung transplantation. In most cases, recurrence is diagnosed as an incidental finding in transbronchial lung allograft biopsy (TBLAB) and is unrelated to clinical or radiologic abnormalities. The origin of the histiocytes composing the noncaseating granulomas in the allograft lung in patients with recurrent sarcoidosis (RS) was analyzed using DNA identity testing in 4 cases.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Native lung resections and corresponding transbronchial biopsies from patients who underwent lung transplantation for sarcoidosis between 1990 and 2004 and who developed RS were gathered from the paraffin block archives of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Clinical parameters including age, sex, grade of rejection, number of episodes of RS, and follow-up were recorded. Native lungs and corresponding TBLAB showing granulomas consistent with RS were microdissected in cases where adequate material was available. DNA was extracted, and an ABI AmpflSTR commercial kit was used to simultaneously amplify 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci as well as 1 marker for the XY chromosomes. The informative STR loci in native lung (pure recipient), nongranulomatous donor lung, and granulomas in donor lung were analyzed in 4 patients. The relative proportion of donor and recipient cells in the chimera was quantified using the fluorescence intensity of each peak on an electropherogram. FISH analysis using probes targeted to X and Y chromosomes was performed in a case of sex-mismatched lung transplantation.

RESULTS: Eight patients with RS were identified. Two had bilateral lung transplantation, and the remaining 6 had single-lung transplantation. The age at transplantation ranged between 39 and 53. Five were females and 3 were men. Recurrent disease was diagnosed in 1 to 11 biopsies per patient and occurred first in the first 6 months following transplantation in 2 cases (25%), between 6 months and 1 year in 2 other cases (25%), and between 1 and 2 years in 4 cases (50%). In 4 patients, sufficient material allowed for DNA analysis. Amplification failed in 1 of the 4 cases, while the other 3 were successful. Patient 1 showed no ACR and granulomatous inflammation of RS in TBLAB. Donor (D) to recipient (R) profile changed from "normal" donor lung (37% D, 63% R) to 15% D and 85% R DNA in the granuloma. In patient 2, the TBLAB showed minimal ACR and granulomatous inflammation. D to R profile changed from 75% D and 25% R in the "normal" D lung to 54% D and 46% R in the granuloma. Patient 3 showed no ACR and RS in TBLAB. D to R profile changed from 85% D and 15% R in the "normal" D lung to 71% D and 29% R in the granuloma. FISH analysis showed a predominance of male cells of recipient origin.

CONCLUSIONS: DNA analysis of 3 cases of RS suggests that the presence of recurrent granulomas in the graft is associated with an increase in the percentage of recipient DNA in the epithelioid cell clusters, as confirmed by the FISH analysis of 1 case.

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