The clinical importance of subclinical, early T cell–mediated rejection (Banff TCMR 1A and borderline lesions) remains unclear, due, in part to the fact that histologic lesions used to characterize early TCMR can be nonspecific. Donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) is an important molecular marker of active graft injury. Over a study period from June 2017 to May 2019, we assessed clinical outcomes in 79 patients diagnosed with TCMR 1A/borderline rejection across 11 US centers with a simultaneous measurement of dd-cfDNA. Forty-two patients had elevated dd-cfDNA (≥0.5%) and 37 patients had low levels (<0.5%). Elevated levels of dd-cfDNA predicted adverse clinical outcomes: among patients with elevated cfDNA, estimated glomerular filtration rate declined by 8.5% (interquartile rate [IQR] −16.22% to −1.39%) (−3.50 mL/min/1.73 m2 IQR −8.00 to −1.00) vs 0% (−4.92%, 4.76%) in low dd-cfDNA patients (P =.004), de novo donor-specific antibody formation was seen in 40% (17/42) vs 2.7% (P <.0001), and future or persistent rejection occurred in 9 of 42 patients (21.4%) vs 0% (P =.003). The use of dd-cfDNA may complement the Banff classification and to risk stratify patients with borderline/TCMR 1A identified on biopsy.
- cellular transplantation (non-islet)
- clinical research/practice
- kidney (allograft) function/dysfunction
- kidney failure/injury
- monitoring: immune
- rejection: T cell mediated (TCMR)