We investigated why some donor-specific antibody-positive patients do not develop antibody-mediated rejection. Of 71 donor-specific antibody-positive patients, 46 had diagnosis of antibody-mediated rejection and 25 had normal biopsies. Fifty donor-specific antibody-negative patients with normal biopsies were used as a control group. A subgroup of 61 patients with available biopsy and 64 with blood samples were analyzed by microarrays. Both donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody-mediated rejection-positive and negative biopsies showed increased expression of gene transcripts associated with cytotoxic T cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, interferon-gamma, and rejection compared to donor-specific antibody-negative biopsies. Regulatory T-cell transcripts were upregulated in donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody- mediated rejection-positive and B-cell transcripts in donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody-mediated rejection-negative biopsies. Whole-blood gene expression analysis showed increased immune activity in only donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody-mediated rejection-positive but not negative patients. During a median follow-up of 36 months, 4 donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody-mediated rejection-negative patients developed antibody-mediated rejection, 12 continued to have donor-specific antibody, but 9 lost their donor-specific antibody. Gene expression profiles did not predict the development of antibody-mediated rejection or the persistence of donor-specific antibody. Thus, donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody- mediated rejection-negative patients had increased rejection-associated gene transcripts in their allografts despite no histologic findings of rejection but not in their blood. This was found in both biopsy and blood samples of donor-specific antibody-positive/antibody-mediated rejection-positive patients.
- antibody-mediated rejection
- donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies
- gene expression
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