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Background: Re-transplanted kidney allograft recipients with high levels of panel reactive antibodies (PRA) are at increased risk of early immunologic graft loss. In these patients, prophylactic peri-operative antibody depletion by immunoadsorption (IA) could prevent humoral graft injury and thus, in combination with anti-cellular rejection therapy, improve graft survival.

Methods: Twenty re-transplanted and broadly immunized cadaver kidney recipients (median PRA reactivity 87%, range 55-100%) were treated with IA (protein A) immediately before transplantation and during the early post-transplantation period (median number of IA sessions 11, range 1-24). Patients received additional prophylactic anti-lymphocyte antibody therapy. Nineteen patients had a negative pre-transplant cross-match. In one patient, a positive cross-match was rendered negative by the pre-transplant IA session.

Results: One-year graft survival was 80% and patient survival 95%. Median (range) serum creatinine in functioning grafts was 1.6 (0.8-2.7) mg/dl at discharge and 1.5 (1.0-5.8) mg/dl at 1 year. Two grafts were lost due to acute vascular rejection, whereby one rejection occurred after withdrawal of immunosuppression due to septicaemia. One patient had acute cellular rejection, which was reversed by a second course of anti-lymphocyte antibody therapy. Thrombotic microangiopathy and surgical complications were the causes for one graft loss each. Retrospective immunohistochemistry revealed peritubular C4d staining, a presumed marker for humoral alloreactivity, in 12 out of 15 biopsies.

Conclusions: These results suggest that prophylactic peri-operative IA and anti-lymphocyte antibody therapy might be an effective therapeutic strategy for the prevention of early graft failure in sensitized re-transplant recipients.

(C) Copyright Oxford University Press 2002.