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Keywords:

  • alloantibodies;
  • graft rejection;
  • humoral rejection;
  • immunoglobulin;
  • intravenous;
  • immunosuppressive agents;
  • kidney transplantation

Several protocols allow for the successful transplantation of sensitized renal allograft recipients, yet no one best method has emerged. The aim of the current study was to compare the efficacy of high-dose IVIG with two different plasmapheresis (PP)-based regimens in kidney transplant recipients with high levels of donor specific alloantibody (DSA) defined as a positive T-cell cytotoxicity crossmatch. With the primary goal of achieving a negative crossmatch, we employed three protocols sequentially between April 2000 and May 2005: (i) PP, low-dose IVIG, anti-CD20 antibody (n = 32); (ii) high-dose IVIG (n = 13); and (iii) PP, low-dose IVIG, anti-CD20 antibody and pre-transplant Thymoglobulin combined with post-transplant DSA monitoring (n = 16). IVIG decreased DSA activity in all treated patient, yet only 38% (5/13) achieved a negative crossmatch. In contrast, a negative crossmatch was achieved in 84% in PP group and 88% in the PP/monitoring group (p < 0.01 vs. IVIG). Even with a negative crossmatch, the rejection rates were 80% (IVIG), 37% (PP) and 29% (PP/monitoring), respectively, (p < 0.05 IVIG vs. PP). We conclude that multiple PP treatments leads to more reproducible desensitization and lower humoral rejection rates than a single high-dose of IVIG, but that no regimen was completely effective in preventing humoral rejection.