In the past, ABO incompatibility was an absolute contraindication for solid organ transplantation. However, multiple recent trials have suggested strategies for overcoming the reactions between graft antigens and recipient antibodies that cause graft rejection. In this study, we determined the usefulness of plasma exchange (PE) for removing anti-A/B antibodies that cause hyperacute/acute humoral graft rejection in patients undergoing ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation.
In our study, 12 patients underwent ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation. All recipients received pre-transplantation conditioning by PE or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) administration. After pre-transplantation conditioning, anti-A/B antibody titers were evaluated, and transplantation was performed when the titer was below 1:8. To assess the transplantation outcome, anti-A/B antibody titers, creatinine level, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), and proteinuria levels were measured.
Anti-A/B antibody titers were below 1:8 in all patients at the time of transplantation. eGFR measured on post-transplant day 14 showed that 10 patients had immediate recovery of graft function, while 2 patients had slow recovery of graft function. Short-term outcomes of ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation (measured as creatinine levels) after reducing anti-A/B antibody titers were similar to those of ABO-compatible kidney transplantation. After transplantation, the anti-A/B antibody titers were below 1:8 in 7 patients, but the remaining 5 patients required post-transplantation PE and IVIG treatment to prevent antigen-antibody reactions.
With the increasing demand for kidney donations, interest in overcoming the ABO incompatibility barrier has increased. PE may be an important breakthrough in increasing the availability of kidneys for transplantation.