Low Incidence of Acute Antibody-Mediated Rejection after HLA Desensitization in Living Donor Kidney Transplant Recipients

Life (Basel). 2022 Nov 29;12(12) doi: 10.3390/life12121993.

Desensitization allows the performance of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-incompatible transplants. However, the incidence of acute rejection (AR) is high. This study aims to analyze the incidence of AR after transplantation with HLA-incompatible living donors in patients who underwent desensitization. Patients were immunosuppressed with tacrolimus, mycophenolic acid derivatives, and steroids after being desensitized with rituximab, plasma exchange, and/or immunoadsorption with specific cytomegalovirus immunoglobulins. A negative complement-dependent cytotoxicity or flow cytometry crossmatch and a donor-specific antibody titer < 1000 mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) were used to determine desensitization efficacy. A total of 36 patients underwent desensitization, and 27 (75%) were transplanted. After a follow-up of 58 ± 58 months (Min−Max: 0.13−169.5), five episodes of AR occurred: two antibody-mediated and three T-cell-mediated. No differences were found in baseline calculated panel-reactive antibodies (cPRA), class I or II MFI, number of antibodies, or Relative Intensity Scale (RIS) between AR and non-AR patients. Patients with antibody-mediated AR had higher cPRA (NS), MFI class I (p = 0.07) and class II (p = 0.006), and RIS (p = 0.01). The two patients with antibody-mediated AR and one patient with T-cell-mediated AR lost their grafts. In conclusion, the incidence of acute antibody-mediated rejection after desensitization was 7.4%, which occurred early post-transplantation in patients with high MFI and was associated with early graft loss.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Case Series / Case Control / Cohort
KEYWORDS: HLA desensitization; acute rejection; immunoglobulins; plasma exchange; rituximab