Transplant immunology

Decrease of blood type antigenicity over the long-term after ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation.

PMID 21616149


Few studies have investigated the changes in the antigenicities of the transplanted organs after transplantation. We examined, by immunohistochemical assay, the changes in expression of the blood-type antigens on the transplanted kidneys over the long-term after ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation with A- or B-antigen incompatibility (blood type A to B and B to A). The subjects were six patients, including one case with graft loss, who had received ABO-incompatible kidney allografts more than ten years previously. As normal controls, four cases of ABO-compatible transplantation during the same period, including two recipient/donor pairs each with blood group A1 and blood group B were enrolled. Expression of the blood-type A or B antigens decreased gradually to 91.8% during the first three months after transplantation, 85.8% during the first five years, 64.1% during the first ten years, and 57.6% over ten years after transplantation on average in ABO-incompatible transplant recipients. In one patient with graft loss due to severe antibody-mediated rejection, the donor's type B blood-type antigens on the transplanted graft had changed but partially to the recipient's blood-type A antigen by 2582days after the transplantation, suggestive of the occurrence of blood-type chimerism on the endothelium. In ABO-compatible transplant recipients, such changes in expression were not observed. The average percentage of blood-type antigen-positive vessels at more than ten years after the renal transplantation was 99.8%. Decrease in the expression of the donor's blood-type antigen on the endothelium of the graft has been considered as one of the mechanisms underlying the accommodation occurring over the long-term after ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation. On the other hand, establishment of antigenic chimerism on the graft endothelium could be one of the hallmarks of the immunological reaction associated with antibody-mediated rejection.