Kidney allograft rejection can occur in clinically stable patients, but long-term significance is unknown. We determined whether early recognition of subclinical rejection has long-term consequences for kidney allograft survival in an observational prospective cohort study of 1307 consecutive nonselected patients who underwent ABO-compatible, complement-dependent cytotoxicity-negative crossmatch kidney transplantation in Paris (2000-2010). Participants underwent prospective screening biopsies at 1 year post-transplant, with concurrent evaluations of graft complement deposition and circulating anti-HLA antibodies. The main analysis included 1001 patients. Three distinct groups of patients were identified at the 1-year screening: 727 (73%) patients without rejection, 132 (13%) patients with subclinical T cell-mediated rejection (TCMR), and 142 (14%) patients with subclinical antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR). Patients with subclinical ABMR had the poorest graft survival at 8 years post-transplant (56%) compared with subclinical TCMR (88%) and nonrejection (90%) groups (P<0.001). In a multivariate Cox model, subclinical ABMR at 1 year was independently associated with a 3.5-fold increase in graft loss (95% confidence interval, 2.1 to 5.7) along with eGFR and proteinuria (P<0.001). Subclinical ABMR was associated with more rapid progression to transplant glomerulopathy. Of patients with subclinical TCMR at 1 year, only those who further developed de novo donor-specific antibodies and transplant glomerulopathy showed higher risk of graft loss compared with patients without rejection. Our findings suggest that subclinical TCMR and subclinical ABMR have distinct effects on long-term graft loss. Subclinical ABMR detected at the 1-year screening biopsy carries a prognostic value independent of initial donor-specific antibody status, previous immunologic events, current eGFR, and proteinuria.
About Alexandre Loupy
Dr Alexandre Loupy is a 36-year-old Nephrologist at the Department of Nephrology and Kidney Transplantation at Necker Hospital in Paris, France. He started his fellowship in November 2011 and is now part of the department as an associate professor at Necker Hospital.