Class II eplet mismatch modulates tacrolimus trough levels required to prevent donor-specific antibody development

Chris Wiebe, David N. Rush, Thomas E. Nevins, Patricia E. Birk, Tom Blydt-Hansen, Ian W. Gibson, Aviva Goldberg, Julie Ho, Martin Karpinski, Denise Pochinco, Atul Sharma, Leroy Storsley, Arthur J. Matas, Peter W. Nickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


Despite more than two decades of use, the optimal maintenance dose of tacrolimus for kidney transplant recipients is unknown. We hypothesized that HLA class II de novo donor-specific antibody (dnDSA) development correlates with tacrolimus trough levels and the recipient's individualized alloimmune risk determined by HLA-DR/DQ epitope mismatch. A cohort of 596 renal transplant recipients with 50,011 serial tacrolimus trough levels had HLA-DR/DQ eplet mismatch determined using HLAMatchmaker software. Weanalyzed the frequency of tacrolimus trough levels belowa series of thresholds,6 ng/ml and the mean tacrolimus levels before dnDSA development in the context of HLA-DR/DQ eplet mismatch. HLA-DR/DQ eplet mismatch was a significant multivariate predictor of dnDSA development. Recipients treated with a cyclosporin regimen had a 2.7-fold higher incidence of dnDSA development than recipients on a tacrolimus regimen. Recipients treated with tacrolimus who developed HLA-DR/DQ dnDSA had a higher proportion of tacrolimus trough levels ,5 ng/ml, which continued to be significant after adjustment for HLA-DR/DQ eplet mismatch. Mean tacrolimus trough levels in the 6 months before dnDSA development were significantly lower than the levels .6 months before dnDSA development in the same patients. Recipients with a highrisk HLA eplet mismatch score were less likely to tolerate low tacrolimus levels without developing dnDSA. We conclude that HLA-DR/DQ eplet mismatch and tacrolimus trough levels are independent predictors of dnDSA development. Recipients with highHLA alloimmune risk should not target tacrolimus levels,5 ng/ml unless essential, and monitoring for dnDSA may be advisable in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3353-3362
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

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© 2017 by the American Society of Nephrology.


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