Annette M. Jackson, Edward S. Kraus, Babak J. Orandi, Dorry L. Segev, Robert A. Montgomery and Andrea A. Zachary
Rituximab has been used to increase the efficacy of desensitization protocols for human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-incompatible kidney transplantation; however, controlled comparisons have not been reported. Here we examined 256 post-transplant HLA antibody levels in 25 recipients desensitized with and 25 without rituximab induction, to determine the impact of B-cell depletion. We found significantly less HLA antibody rebound in the rituximab-treated patients (7% of donor-specific antibodies (DSAs) and 33% of non-DSAs) compared with a control cohort desensitized and transplanted without rituximab (32%
DSAs and 55% non-DSAs). The magnitude of the increase was significantly larger among patients who did not receive rituximab. Interestingly, in rituximab-treated patients, of the 39 HLA antibodies that increased post transplant, 34 were specific for HLA mismatches present in previous allografts or pregnancies, implying limited efficacy in memory B-cell depletion. Compared with controls, rituximab-treated
patients had a significantly greater mean reduction in DSA (2505 vs. 292 mean fluorescence intensity), but a similar rate of DSA persistence (52% in rituximab treated-and 40% in non-treated recipients). Thus, rituximab induction in HLA-incompatible recipients reduced the incidence and magnitude of HLA antibody rebound, but did not affect DSA elimination, antibody-mediated rejection, or 5-year allograft
survival when compared with recipients desensitized and transplanted without rituximab.
Keywords: B cells; desensitization; HLA antibody; kidney transplantation; rituximab