Background. Elevated levels of donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) in the plasma of renal allograft recipients indicates organ injury and an increased probability of active rejection. Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) to HLA antigens are associated with risk of antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR). This study assessed the combined use of dd-cfDNA and DSA testing to diagnose active ABMR. Methods. Donor-derived cell-free DNA was assayed in 90 blood samples with paired DSA and clinically indicated biopsies from 87 kidney transplant patients. Sixteen cases met criteria for active ABMR. Performance characteristics of dd-cfDNA for diagnosis of active ABMR were determined for samples with prior or current positive DSA (DSA+, n = 33). Results. The median level of dd-cfDNA (2.9%) in DSA+ patients with active ABMR was significantly higher than the median level (0.34%) in DSA+ patients without ABMR (P < 0.001). The median level of dd-cfDNA in DSA− patients was 0.29%. The positive predictive value of dd-cfDNA (at 1%) to detect active ABMR in DSA+ patients was 81%, whereas the negative predictive value was 83%. The positive predictive value for DSA+ alone was 48%. Conclusions. The combined use of dd-cfDNA and DSA testing may improve the noninvasive diagnosis of active ABMR in kidney transplant patients. Patients with dd-cfDNA+/ DSA+ results have a high probability of active ABMR.
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