Transplant glomerulopathy is established as a hallmark of chronic antibody-mediated rejection in kidney transplant patients with donor-specific HLA antibodies (HLA-DSA). The clinical importance of transplant glomerulopathy in the absence of HLA-DSA is not well established. To help define this, 954 patients (encompassing 3744 biopsies) who underwent kidney transplantation 2004-2013 were studied with retrospective high-resolution HLA genotyping of both donors and recipients. The risk factors, histopathological appearance and prognosis of cases with transplant glomerulopathy in the absence of HLA-DSA were compared to those cases with HLA-DSA, and the impact of the PIRCHE-II score and eplet mismatches on development of transplant glomerulopathy evaluated. In this cohort, 10.3% developed transplant glomerulopathy, on average 3.2 years post-transplant. At the time of glomerulopathy, 23.5% had persistent pre-transplant or de novo HLA-DSA, while 76.5% were HLA-DSA negative. Only HLA-DSA was identified as a risk factor for glomerulopathy development as eplet mismatches and the PIRCHE-II score did not associate. HLA-DSA negative biopsies with glomerulopathy had less interstitial inflammation, less glomerulitis and less C4d deposition in the peritubular capillaries compared to the HLA-DSA positive biopsies with glomerulopathy. While graft function was comparable between the two groups, HLA-DSA positive glomerulopathy was associated with a significantly higher risk of graft failure compared to HLA-DSA negative glomerulopathy (Hazard Ratio 3.84; 95% confidence interval 1.94-7.59). Landmark analysis three-years post-transplant showed that HLA-DSA negative patients with glomerulopathy still had a significant increased risk of graft failure compared to patients negative for glomerulopathy (2.62; 1.46-4.72). Thus, transplant glomerulopathy often occurs in the absence of HLA-DSA, independent of HLA molecular mismatches, and represents a different phenotype with less concomitant inflammation and better graft survival compared to that developed in the presence of HLA-DSA.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.