JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Clinical role of the renal transplant biopsy

Winfred W Williams, Diana Taheri, Nina Tolkoff-Rubin, Robert B Colvin
Nature Reviews. Nephrology 2012 January 10, 8 (2): 110-21
22231130
Percutaneous needle core biopsy is the definitive procedure by which essential diagnostic and prognostic information on acute and chronic renal allograft dysfunction is obtained. The diagnostic value of the information so obtained has endured for over three decades and has proven crucially important in shaping strategies for therapeutic intervention. This Review provides a broad outline of the utility of performing kidney graft biopsies after transplantation, highlighting the relevance of biopsy findings in the immediate and early post-transplant period (from days to weeks after implantation), the first post-transplant year, and the late period (beyond the first year). We focus on how biopsy findings change over time, and the wide variety of pathological features that characterize the major clinical diagnoses facing the clinician. This article also includes a discussion of acute cellular and humoral rejection, the toxic effects of calcineurin inhibitors, and the widely varying etiologies and characteristics of chronic lesions. Emerging technologies based on gene expression analyses and proteomics, the in situ detection of functionally relevant molecules, and new bioinformatic approaches that hold the promise of improving diagnostic precision and developing new, refined molecular pathways for therapeutic intervention are also presented.

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