We have previously observed that transplant recipient sera with endothelial antibodies are bound to epidermal cells, as shown by immunofluorescence on sections of skin. It was also reported that early kidney failures that occurred despite negative T cell crossmatches were associated with, and could have been predicted by, a cross-match with donor skin. Ninety patients undergoing kidney transplantation have now been evaluated using this technique. A few other patients were excluded from the analysis because of the presence of autoantibodies staining autologous skin. In 12 the crossmatch with donor skin was positive, and 9 of them had severe rejection within the first 10 days after transplantation. The three patients with a positive skin crossmatch and a benign course had not been tested with autologous skin and therefore autoantibodies could not be excluded. Only 7 of the 78 patients with negative skin crossmatches had early rejection. The correlation between skin crossmatch and early rejection was statistically highly significant (P<0.0001). Studies by flow cytometry have shown that these antigens are found on the surface of epidermal and endothelial cells, and are modulated by gamma interferon. When tested against a panel of skin donors, skin alloantibodies gave different patterns of positive and negative reactions, suggesting polymorphism.
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