Background: Immune responses to mismatched donor human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are important in the pathogenesis of chronic rejection. This study evaluated whether erythrocyte-bound C4d (E-C4d) is associated with known alloimmune and autoimmune markers of antibody-mediated rejection after human lung transplantation (LTx). Methods: Flow cytometry was used to analyze 22 LTx recipients and 15 healthy individuals for E-C4d. Development of antibodies to donor-mismatched HLA (donor-specific antibody [DSA]) and antibodies to HLA were determined using the solid-phase method by Luminex. Development of antibodies to self-antigens, K-α-1-tubulin (KA1T) and collagen V (Col-V), were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. C3d deposition in lung biopsy specimens was determined by immunohistochemical staining. Results: Percent E-C4d (%E-C4d) levels were 19.9% in LTx patients vs 3.7% in healthy individuals (p = 0.02). DSA+ patients had higher E-C4d levels than DSA- patients (34.1% vs 16.7%, p = 0.02). In 5 patients with preformed anti-HLA, E-C4d levels were not significantly different vs 13 patients without detectable anti-HLA (p = 0.1). E-C4d levels were higher in patients who developed antibodies to KA1T (p = 0.02) and Col-V (p = 0.03). Recipients with C3d-positive tissue deposition had higher E-C4d levels than patients with C3d-negative biopsy results (p = 0.01). Conclusions: Increased %E-C4d levels are found in patients with positive DSA, high antibody titers to KA1T and Col-V, and have C3d+ lung biopsy findings. Therefore, %E-C4d can serve as a potential marker for antibody-mediated rejection after LTx.
- complement degradation products
- lung transplantation