ABO-compatible liver allograft antibody-mediated rejection: an update

Anthony J. Demetris, Adriana Zeevi, Jacqueline G. O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose of review Liver allograft antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) studies have lagged behind parallel efforts in kidney and heart because of a comparative inherent hepatic resistance to AMR. Three developments, however, have increased interest: first, solid phase antibody testing enabled more precise antibody characterization; second, increased expectations for long-term, morbidity-free survival; and third, immunosuppression minimization trials. Recent findings Two overlapping liver allograft AMR phenotypic expressions are beginning to emerge: acute and chronic AMR. Acute AMR usually occurs within the several weeks after transplantation and characterized clinically by donor-specific antibodies (DSA) persistence, allograft dysfunction, thrombocytopenia, and hypocomplementemia. Acute AMR appears histopathologically similar to acute AMR in other organs: diffuse microvascular endothelial cell hypertrophy, C4d deposits, neutrophilic, eosinophilic, and macrophag-mediated microvasculitis/capillaritis, along with liver-specific ductular reaction, centrilobular hepatocyte swelling, and hepatocanalicular cholestasis often combined with T-cell-mediated rejection (TCMR). Chronic AMR is less well defined, but strongly linked to serum class II DSA and associated with late-onset acute TCMR, fibrosis, chronic rejection, and decreased survival. Unlike acute AMR, chronic AMR is a slowly evolving insult with a number of potential manifestations, but most commonly appears as low-grade lymphoplasmacytic portal and perivenular inflammation accompanied by unusual fibrosis patterns and variable microvascular C4d deposition; capillaritis can be more difficult to identify than in acute AMR. Summary More precise DSA characterization, increasing expectations for long-term survival, and immunosuppression weaning precipitated a re-emergence of liver allograft AMR interest. Pathophysiological similarities exist between heart, kidney, and liver allografts, but liver-specific considerations may prove critical to our ultimate understanding of all solid organ AMR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-324
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent opinion in organ transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Acute antibody-mediated rejection
  • C4d
  • Chronic antibody-mediated rejection
  • Complement-dependent cytotoxicity
  • Donor-specific antibodies
  • Orthotopic liver transplant
  • T-cell-mediated rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation


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