Immortal Time-Bias-Corrected Survival of Highly Sensitized Patients and HLA-desensitized Kidney Transplant Recipients

Kidney Int Rep. 2021 Aug 2;6(10):2629-2638 doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2021.07.024.

In the setting of kidney transplantation (KT), we assessed the efficacy of desensitization and compared the survival of desensitized patients (HLA-incompatible KT) with similarly sensitized patients receiving HLA-compatible KT or sensitized patients still on a waiting list after adjusting for the usually unaccounted immortal time bias.


All patients in a French KT center on the waiting list between August 1994 and December 2019 with a high level of sensitization (panel-reactive antibodies [PRAs] ≥80%) were included. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. A time-varying covariate Cox survival model was used to account for the immortal time bias. A landmark analysis was used as a sensitivity analysis.


During the study period, 326 patients with high PRAs were followed, among which 147 (45%) remained on the waiting list at the time of last follow-up and 179 benefited from a KT. Thirty-six patients were desensitized, of which 30 received a kidney transplant, including eight deceased kidney donors. There were no differences in mortality rates between desensitized KT patients, nondesensitized KT patients, and waitlisted patients after adjusting for immortal time bias (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.48, P = 0.22). Death-censored graft survival was similar between desensitized and nondesensitized KT patients (HR = 0.92, P = 0.88 adjusting for donor age >65 years, donor status, and time on the waiting list). Mean estimated glomerular filtration rate at 1 year post-KT was similar for desensitized KT patients (53.3 ± 21 vs. 53.6 ± 21 ml/min per 1.73 m2 for nondesensitized patients; P = 0.95).


HLA-desensitization was effective for highly sensitized patients and gave access to KT without detrimental effects on patient or graft survival rates.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Case Series / Case Control / Cohort
KEYWORDS: HLA-incompatible; desensitization; end-stage renal disease; kidney graft survival; kidney transplantation; patient survival