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Keywords:

  • Acute cellular rejection;
  • impact of rejection;
  • prognostic factors;
  • small intestine transplantation

Intestinal transplantation has evolved over the years with major improvements in patient and graft survival. Acute cellular rejection of the intestine, however, still remains one of the most challenging aspects of postoperative management. We analyzed retrospectively collected data from 209 recipients of primary intestinal grafts at our institution over the past 11 years. A total of 290 episodes of biopsy-proven rejection requiring clinical treatment were analyzed. Rejection episodes doubled in length, on average, with each increasing grade (mild, moderate, severe). We observed increased incidence of overall rejection and particularly severe rejection in recipients of isolated intestinal and liver-intestine grafts in comparison with multivisceral grafts. Two rejection history variables had a significant negative impact on graft survival: the occurrence of a severe rejection episode and a rejection episode lasting ≥21 days. The lower incidence rate of severe rejection in recipients of multivisceral grafts might be due to a combination of increased donor lymphatic tissue and larger load of donor-derived immune competent cells present in the graft. The development of more effective monitoring and treatment protocols to prevent the occurrence of severe and/or lengthy rejection episodes is of critical importance for intestinal graft survival.