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Keywords:

  • Antibody-mediated rejection;
  • ATG;
  • HLA-antibodies;
  • intravenous immunoglobulins

Low-level donor-specific HLA-antibodies (HLA-DSA) (i.e. detectable by single-antigen flow beads, but negative by complement-dependent cytotoxicity crossmatch) represent a risk factor for early allograft rejection. The short-term efficacy of an induction regimen consisting of polyclonal anti-T-lymphocyte globulin (ATG) and intravenous immunoglobulins (IvIg) in patients with low-level HLA-DSA is unknown. In this study, we compared 67 patients with low-level HLA-DSA not having received ATG/IvIg induction (historic control) with 37 patients, who received ATG/IvIg induction. The two groups were equal regarding retransplants, HLA-matches, number and class of HLA-DSA. The overall incidence of clinical/subclinical antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) was lower in the ATG/IvIg than in the historic control group (38% vs. 55%; p = 0.03). This was driven by a significantly lower rate of clinical AMR (11% vs. 46%; p = 0.0002). Clinical T-cell-mediated rejection (TCR) was significantly lower in the ATG/IvIg than in the historic control group (0% vs. 50%; p < 0.0001). Within the first year, allograft loss due to AMR occurred in 7.5% in the historic control and in 0% in the ATG/IvIg group. We conclude that in patients with low-level HLA-DSA, ATG/IvIg induction significantly reduces TCR and the severity of AMR, but the high rate of subclinical AMR suggests an insufficient control of the humoral immune response.