Acute Cellular Rejection and C4d Positivity in Heart Transplantation : A Manifestation of Asymptomatic Antibody-Mediated Rejection?

Burhan Mohamedali, Joseph Pyle, Geetha Bhat
American Journal of Clinical Pathology 2016, 145 (2): 238-43

OBJECTIVES: The role of routine C4d staining in endomyocardial biopsy specimens is uncertain. The implications of a diagnosis of acute cellular rejection (ACR) with a positive C4d with or without any evidence of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) are unclear. This study sought to evaluate a distinct phenotype of ACR+/C4d+ in AMR- patients.

METHODS: Data on C4d, ACR, and AMR were collected. Donor-specific antibody (DSA), panel-reactive antibody (PRA), flow crossmatch, and data on ACR and AMR episodes were also reviewed.

RESULTS: Thirty-five patients were followed. Group I with C4d+ biopsy specimens was compared with group II with C4d- biopsy specimens. ACR greater than 1R was higher in group I compared with group II (50% vs 7.4%; P = .01). Clinical suspicion of AMR, positive retrospective crossmatches, and detection of de novo DSA were also higher in group I.

CONCLUSIONS: Our result indicate that C4d and ACR positivity in posttransplant patients may be a harbinger of a subclinical form of asymptomatic AMR.

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