Posttransplant peripheral blood donor-specific interferon-γ enzyme-linked immune spot assay differentiates risk of subclinical rejection and de novo donor-specific alloantibodies in kidney transplant recipients.Kidney Int. 2017 07; 92(1):201-213.KI
Noninvasive diagnosis of kidney allograft inflammation in transplant recipients with stable graft function (subclinical rejection) could permit more effective therapy and prevent later development of de novo anti-donor HLA antibodies and/or graft dysfunction. Here we tested whether quantifying posttransplant donor-specific alloreactive T-cells by IFN-γ ELISPOT assay noninvasively detects subclinical T-cell mediated rejection and/or predicts development of anti-donor HLA antibodies. Using an initial cross-sectional cohort of 60 kidney transplant patients with six-month surveillance biopsies, we found that negative donor-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT assays accurately ruled out the presence of subclinical T-cell mediated rejection. These results were validated using a distinct prospective cohort of 101 patients where donor-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT results at both three- and six-months posttransplant significantly differentiated patients with subclinical T-cell mediated rejection at six months, independent of other clinical variables (odds ratio 0.072, 95% confidence interval 0.008-0.653). The posttransplant donor-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT results independently associated with subsequent development of significant anti-donor HLA antibodies (0.085, 0.008-0.862) and with significantly worse two-year function (estimated glomerular filtration rate) compared to patients with a negative test. Thus, posttransplant immune monitoring by donor-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT can assess risk for developing subclinical T-cell mediated rejection and anti-donor HLA antibodies, potentially limiting the need for surveillance biopsies. Our study provides a guide for individualizing immunosuppression to improve posttransplant outcomes.