PMID: 27401781


Precise diagnosis of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) in cardiac allograft endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs) remains challenging. This study assessed molecular diagnostics in human EMBs with AMR. A set of 34 endothelial, natural killer cell and inflammatory genes was quantified in 106 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded EMBs classified according to 2013 International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) criteria. The gene set expression was compared between ISHLT diagnoses and correlated with donor-specific antibody (DSA), endothelial injury by electron microscopy (EM) and prognosis. Findings were validated in an independent set of 57 EMBs. In the training set (n = 106), AMR cases (n = 70) showed higher gene set expression than acute cellular rejection (ACR; n = 21, p < 0.001) and controls (n = 15, p < 0.0001). Anti-HLA DSA positivity was associated with higher gene set expression (p = 0.01). Endothelial injury by electron microscopy strongly correlated with gene set expression, specifically in AMR cases (r = 0.62, p = 0.002). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis for diagnosing AMR showed greater accuracy with gene set expression (area under the curve [AUC] = 79.88) than with DSA (AUC = 70.47) and C4d (AUC = 70.71). In AMR patients (n = 17) with sequential biopsies, increasing gene set expression was associated with inferior prognosis (p = 0.034). These findings were confirmed in the validation set. In conclusion, biopsy-based molecular assessment of antibody-mediated microcirculation injury has the potential to improve diagnosis of AMR in human cardiac transplants.


About Jean-Paul Duong Van-Huyen

Jean-Paul Duong-Van-Huyen, MD, PhD is Professor of Pathology at Paris Descartes University. 

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