Non-invasive screening for subclinical liver graft injury in adults via donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies.

Höfer, Anne GND; Jonigk, Danny David GND; Hartleben, Björn GND; Verboom, Murielle; Hallensleben, Michael ORCID; Manns, Michael Peter ORCID; Jäckel, Elmar GND; Taubert, Richard GND

The majority of liver grafts exhibit abnormal histological findings late after transplantation, even when liver enzymes are normal. Such subclinical graft injuries were associated with rejection and fibrosis progression in recent studies. The identification of non-invasive biomarkers for subclinical graft injury might help to individualize immunosuppression. Therefore, graft injury was assessed in 133 liver biopsies with normal/near normal liver enzymes from a prospective liver biopsy program. Cytokeratin-18 cell death marker (M65) and donor specific anti-HLA antibodies (DSA) were measured as non-invasive markers in paired plasma samples in addition to routine parameters. M65 was associated with subclinical graft injury but this association was too weak for reasonable clinical application. DSA positivity was associated with more graft inflammation (OR = 5.4) and more fibrosis (OR = 4.2). Absence of DSA excluded fibrosis in 87-89%, while presence of DSA excluded histological criteria for immunosuppression minimization attempts in 92-97%. While CK18 cell death marker had no diagnostic value for the detection of subclinical liver graft injury, DSA testing can help to preselect patients for immunosuppression reduction in case of DSA negativity, while DSA positivity should prompt elastography or liver biopsy for the assessment of subclinical graft injury.

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Höfer, Anne / Jonigk, Danny / Hartleben, Björn / et al: Non-invasive screening for subclinical liver graft injury in adults via donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies.. 2020.

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