Noninvasive detection of graft injury after heart transplant using donor-derived cell-free DNA: A prospective multicenter study

Kiran K. Khush, Jignesh Patel, Sean Pinney, Andrew Kao, Rami Alharethi, Eugene DePasquale, Gregory Ewald, Peter Berman, Manreet Kanwar, David Hiller, James P. Yee, Robert N. Woodward, Shelley Hall, Jon Kobashigawa

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140 Scopus citations


Standardized donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) testing has been introduced into clinical use to monitor kidney transplant recipients for rejection. This report describes the performance of this dd-cfDNA assay to detect allograft rejection in samples from heart transplant (HT) recipients undergoing surveillance monitoring across the United States. Venous blood was longitudinally sampled from 740 HT recipients from 26 centers and in a single-center cohort of 33 patients at high risk for antibody-mediated rejection (AMR). Plasma dd-cfDNA was quantified by using targeted amplification and sequencing of a single nucleotide polymorphism panel. The dd-cfDNA levels were correlated to paired events of biopsy-based diagnosis of rejection. The median dd-cfDNA was 0.07% in reference HT recipients (2164 samples) and 0.17% in samples classified as acute rejection (35 samples; P =.005). At a 0.2% threshold, dd-cfDNA had a 44% sensitivity to detect rejection and a 97% negative predictive value. In the cohort at risk for AMR (11 samples), dd-cfDNA levels were elevated 3-fold in AMR compared with patients without AMR (99 samples, P =.004). The standardized dd-cfDNA test identified acute rejection in samples from a broad population of HT recipients. The reported test performance characteristics will guide the next stage of clinical utility studies of the dd-cfDNA assay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2889-2899
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • biomarker
  • clinical research/practice
  • heart (allograft) function/dysfunction
  • heart transplantation/cardiology


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