Correlation of circulating donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies and presence of C4d in endomyocardial biopsy with heart allograft outcomes: a single-center, retrospective study

Renee Frank, Maria R Molina, Joyce W Wald, Lee R Goldberg, Malek Kamoun, Priti Lal
Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 2013, 32 (4): 410-7

BACKGROUND: Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) are associated with increased cardiac graft loss and cardiac vasculopathy (CAV). Detection of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) relies on graft dysfunction, C4d immunofluorescence (IF) and DSA.

METHODS: We retrospectively studied the relationship of DSA, endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) and C4d IF to cardiac transplant outcomes. DSA were evaluated against HLA class I and II specificities, both pre- and post-transplant, using microbead-based assays.

RESULTS: Of 626 cardiac transplant patients, 109 with concurrent EMBs and C4d IF and DSA measurement were included in this study. In patients with and without DSA, CAV occurred in 31% and 13% and acute cellular rejection (ACR) in 100% and 84%, respectively. One hundred ten of 170 EMBs procured during episodes of graft dysfunction had concurrent DSA. In these patients, C4d IF correlated better with DSA to class I or both class I and II and less so in patients with DSA to class II. Graft failure (GF) rates of 40%, 29% and 58% with average times to GF of 33, 77 and 48 months were seen in patients with DSA to class I, II or both, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with DSA to class I or to both class I and II showed a correlation with C4d IF and had higher GF rates compared to patients with DSA to only class II or no DSA; patients with DSA to class II remained at risk for CAV. Episodes of ACR and CAV, but not AMR, appeared to be more frequently associated with graft dysfunction in patients with circulating DSA.

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