The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.
Research Article| Volume 41, ISSUE 10, P1470-1477, October 2022

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Eplet matching in pediatric heart transplantation: The SickKids experience


      Epitope-based tissue matching may be superior to HLA antigen matching. We compared antigen to molecular-level HLA matching on outcomes following pediatric heart transplantation (HTx).


      This is a retrospective, single centre cohort study (2013-2020). HLA antigen and eplet mismatch analyses were performed in HTx patients <18 years old. Primary endpoint was graft loss; secondary endpoints were rejection and cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV). A multivariable Cox regression analysis was used to examine associations between eplet or antigen mismatching and outcomes. A logistic regression analysis was performed to examine associations between eplet or antigen mismatching and outcomes.


      Seventy-seven patients (40% males) were included, with a median age at HTx 4.3 years [range 0.05-18]. Median HLA class I and II eplet mismatches were 10 (1-22) and 11 (1-23). Median class I and II antigen mismatches were 5 (1-6) and 4 (0-6). 9 patients (11.7%) died [median time 4 months (range 0.1-46)]. Eight (10.4%) patients developed AMR [median time 22 days (IQR = 168)]. Twenty-one patients (27.3%) had acute cellular rejection [median time 40 days (IQR = 85.5)]. In univariate analysis, patients with HLA Class II DPB eplet mismatches above the median for this cohort had an increased risk of graft loss (OR 5.3 [95%CI: 1.03-27.5], p = 0.039). HLA eplet mismatching was not associated with rejection; antigen mismatching was not associated with either graft loss or rejection. In multivariable analysis, patients with HLA Class II DPB eplet mismatches above the median had an increased risk of graft loss (HR 8.14 [95% CI: 1.26-49], p = 0.02). HLA eplet mismatching was not associated with rejection; antigen mismatching was not associated with graft loss or rejection. A logistic regression analysis including 'number of HLA Class II DPB eplet mismatches’ correctly predicted 95.8% of the outcomes.


      In our cohort of pediatric heart transplant recipients, the number of HLA Class II DPB eplet mismatches was associated with graft loss. Molecular-level HLA matching is an emerging tool for graft loss risk stratification, but further study is required.



      ABOi (ABO-incompatible), ACR (acute cellular rejection), AMR (antibody mediated rejection), CAV (cardiac allograft vasculopathy), CHD (congenital heart disease), cPRA (calculated panel reactive antibody), dnDSA (de novo donor specific antibodies), ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), HLA (human leukocyte antigen), ISHLT (International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation)
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