The presence of anti-HLA donor-specific antibodies in lung allograft recipients does not correlate with C4d immunofluorescence in transbronchial biopsy specimens

Jordan A Roberts, Roberto Barrios, Philip T Cagle, Yimin Ge, Hidehiro Takei, Abida K Haque, Kevin M Burns, Geoffrey A Land, Smaroula Dilioglou, David W Bernard
Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 2014, 138 (8): 1053-8

CONTEXT: C4d immunofluorescence (IF) is a surrogate for development of donor-specific antibodies (DSAs) against human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II antigens in kidney and heart biopsy specimens for monitoring of antibody-mediated (humoral) allograft rejection (AMR). Use of C4d IF in monitoring of lung allografts has shown conflicting results.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if C4d IF can be used as a reliable marker for AMR and if it correlates with the presence of DSAs and histologic findings on biopsy.

DESIGN: All transbronchial biopsies in lung allograft recipients, performed at our institution in a 3-year period, were reviewed. A cohort of 92 patients with 110 corresponding biopsies met the inclusion criteria of (1) having a resulted DSA within 2 weeks of biopsy and (2) having C4d immunofluorescence studies performed and confirmed.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine patients (31.5%) were positive for DSAs and 63 patients (68.5%) did not develop DSAs. Positive C4d capillary IF was seen in 18 of 110 total biopsy specimens (16.4%). Eight of these biopsy samples were from patients positive for DSAs and 10 were from patients negative for DSAs. The correlation coefficient between the presence of DSAs and C4d IF was 0.1628 (P = .09).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of DSA-positive patients had negative C4d IF results and frequently have no histologic changes on biopsy specimens. DSA-negative patients can be positive for C4d and may show the same histologic changes as reported for DSA-positive patients. Diagnosis of AMR in lung may require a collaborative approach combining clinical data, DSA status, and histology.

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