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Keywords:

  • Complement C4d;
  • HLA antibodies;
  • liver transplantation;
  • rejection

The role of humoral alloreactivity in ABO-compatible liver transplantation remains unclear. To understand the significance of donor-specific HLA alloantibodies (DSA) in liver rejection, we applied the currently used strategy for detection of antibody-mediated rejection of other solid allografts. For this purpose we reviewed the data on 43 recipients of ABO identical/compatible donor livers who had indication liver biopsy stained for complement element C4d and contemporaneous circulating DSA determination. Seventeen (40%) patients had significant circulating DSA in association with diffuse portal C4d deposition (DSA+/diffuse C4d+). These DSA+/diffuse C4d+ subjects had higher frequency of acute cellular rejection (ACR) 15/17 versus 13/26 (88% vs. 50%), p = 0.02, and steroid resistant rejection 7/17 versus 5/26 (41% vs. 19%), p = 0.03. Based on detection of the combination DSA+/diffuse C4d+, 53.6% of cases of ACR had evidence of concurrent humoral alloreactivity. Six of the 10 patients with ductopenic rejection had circulating DSA and diffuse portal C4d, three of whom (2 early and 1 late posttransplantation) developed unrelenting cholestasis, necessitating specific antibody-depleting therapy to salvage the allografts. Thus, in ABO-compatible liver transplantation humoral alloreactivity mediated by antibodies against donor HLA molecules appears to be frequently intertwined with cellular mechanisms of rejection, and to play a role in ductopenia development.