We analyzed 60 patients with idiopathic early allograft loss (defined as death or retransplantation at <90 days) to determine the relative contribution of preformed donor-specific human leukocyte antigen alloantibodies (DSAs) to this endpoint, and we defined strict criteria for the diagnosis of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) in liver allografts. The inclusion criteria encompassed the availability of a pretransplant serum sample and both postreperfusion and follow-up tissue specimens for a blinded, retrospective re-review of histology and complement component 4d (C4d) staining. AMR was diagnosed on the basis of the presence of all 4 of the following strict criteria: (1) DSAs in serum, (2) histopathological evidence of diffuse microvascular injury/microvasculitis consistent with antibody-mediated injury, (3) diffuse C4d staining in the portal microvasculature with or without staining in the sinusoids or central veins in at least 1 sample, and (4) the exclusion of other causes of a similar type of injury. Patients thought to be experiencing definite AMR on the basis of routine histopathology alone showed the highest levels of DSA sensitization. Forty percent of patients with pretransplant DSAs with a pattern of bead saturation after serial dilutions developed AMR. Another multiparous female developed what appeared to be a strong recall response, which resulted in combined AMR and acute cellular rejection (ACR) causing graft failure. A contribution of DSAs to allograft failure could not be excluded for 3 additional patients who received marginal grafts. In conclusion, liver allograft recipients with preformed DSAs with a high mean fluorescence intensity despite dilution seem to be at risk for clinically significant allograft injury and possibly for loss from AMR, often in combination with ACR.
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