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Bridge-to-transplant temporary mechanical circulatory support and risk of allosensitization.

INTRODUCTION: Since the 2018 change in the US adult heart allocation policy, more patients are bridged-to-transplant on temporary mechanical circulatory support (tMCS). Previous studies indicate that durable left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) may lead to allosensitization. The goal of this study was to assess whether tMCS implantation is associated with changes in sensitization.

METHODS: We included patients evaluated for heart transplants between 2015 and 2022 who had alloantibody measured before and after MCS implantation. Allosensitization was defined as development of new alloantibodies after tMCS implant.

RESULTS: A total of 41 patients received tMCS before transplant. Nine (22.0%) patients developed alloantibodies following tMCS implantation: 3 (12.0%) in the intra-aortic balloon pump group (n = 25), 2 (28.6%) in the microaxial percutaneous LVAD group (n = 7), and 4 (44.4%) in the veno-arterial extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation group (n = 9)-p = .039. Sensitized patients were younger (44.7 ± 11.6 years vs. 54.3 ± 12.5 years, p = .044), were more likely to be sensitized at baseline - 3 of 9 (33.3%) compared to 2 out of 32 (6.3%) (p = .028) and received more transfusions with red blood cells (6 (66.6%) vs. 8 (25%), p = .02) and platelets (6 (66.6%) vs. 5 (15.6%), p = .002). There was no significant difference in tMCS median duration of support (4 [3,15] days vs. 8.5 [5,14.5] days, p = .57). Importantly, out of the 11 patients who received a durable LVAD after tMCS, 5 (45.5%) became sensitized, compared to 4 out of 30 patients (13.3%) who only had tMCS-p = .028.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that patients bridged-to-transplant with tMCS, without significant blood product transfusions and a subsequent durable LVAD implant, have a low risk of allosensitization. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings and determine whether risk of sensitization varies by type of tMCS and duration of support.

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