The prevalence and long-term impact of T-cell mediated rejection (TCMR) is poorly defined in the modern era of tacrolimus/mycophenolate-based maintenance therapy. This observational study evaluated 775 kidney transplant recipients with serial histology and correlated TCMR events with the risk of graft loss. After a ~30% incidence of a first Banff Borderline or greater TCMR detected on for-cause (17%) or surveillance (13%) biopsies, persistent (37.4%) or subsequent (26.3%) TCMR occurred in 64% of recipients on follow-up biopsies. Alloimmune risk categories based on HLA-DR/DQ single molecule eplet molecular mismatch correlated with the number of TCMR events (p=0.002) and Banff TCMR grade (p=0.007). Both a first and second TCMR event correlated with death-censored and all-cause graft loss when adjusted for baseline covariates and other significant time-dependent covariates such as DGF and ABMR. Therefore, a substantial portion of kidney transplant recipients, especially those with intermediate and high HLA-DR/DQ molecular mismatch scores, remain under-immunosuppressed, which in turn identifies the need for novel agents that can more effectively prevent or treat TCMR.
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