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Journal: American journal of transplantation : official journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons


Prolonged hypothermic storage causes ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) in the renal graft, which is considered to contribute to the occurrence of the delayed graft function (DGF) and chronic graft failure. Strategies are required to protect the graft and to prolong renal graft survival. We demonstrated that xenon exposure to human proximal tubular cells (HK-2) led to activation of range of protective proteins. Xenon treatment prior to or after hypothermia-hypoxia challenge stabilized the HK-2 cellular structure, diminished cytoplasmic translocation of high-mobility group box (HMGB) 1 and suppressed NF-κB activation. In the syngeneic Lewis-to-Lewis rat model of kidney transplantation, xenon exposure to donors before graft retrieval or to recipients after engraftment decreased caspase-3 expression, localized HMGB-1 within nuclei and prevented TLR-4/NF-κB activation in tubular cells; serum pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α were reduced and renal function was preserved. Xenon treatment of graft donors or of recipients prolonged renal graft survival following IRI in both Lewis-to-Lewis isografts and Fischer-to-Lewis allografts. Xenon induced cell survival or graft functional recovery was abolished by HIF-1α siRNA. Our data suggest that xenon treatment attenuates DGF and enhances graft survival. This approach could be translated into clinical practice leading to a considerable improvement in long-term graft survival.

Concepts: Protein, Kidney, Nephrology, Cell nucleus, Cell, Cytoplasm, Organ transplant, Protection


Solid organ transplant recipients may be at a high risk for SARS-CoV2 infection and poor associated outcomes. We herein report our initial experience with solid organ transplant recipients with SARS-CoV2 infection at two centers during the first 3 weeks of the outbreak in New York City. Baseline characteristics, clinical presentation, antiviral and immunosuppressive management were compared between patients with mild/moderate and severe disease (defined as ICU admission, intubation or death). 90 patients were analyzed with a median age of 57 years. 46 were kidney recipients, 17 lung, 13 liver, 9 heart and 5 dual-organ transplants. The most common presenting symptoms were fever (70%), cough (59%) and dyspnea (43%). 22 (24%) had mild, 41 (46%) moderate and 27 (30%) severe disease. Among the 68 hospitalized patients, 12% required non-rebreather and 35% required intubation. 91% received hydroxychloroquine, 66% azithromycin, 3% remdesivir, 21% tocilizumab and 24% bolus steroids. Sixteen patients died (18% overall, 24% of hospitalized, 52% of ICU) and 37 (54%) were discharged. In this initial cohort, transplant recipients with COVID-19 appear to have more severe outcomes, although testing limitations likely led to undercounting of mild/asymptomatic cases. As this outbreak unfolds, COVID-19 has the potential to severely impact solid organ transplant recipients.


In heart transplant (HTx) recipients, there has been reluctance to recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) due to denervation and chronotropic impairment of the heart. We compared the effects of 12 weeks' HIIT versus continued moderate exercise (CON) on exercise capacity and chronotropic response in stable HTx recipients >12 months after transplantation in a randomized crossover trial. The study was completed by 16 HTx recipients (mean age 52 years, 75% males). Baseline peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak ) was 22.9 mL/kg/min. HIIT increased VO2peak by 4.9 ± 2.7 mL/min/kg (17%) and CON by 2.6 ± 2.2 mL/kg/min (10%) (significantly higher in HIIT; p < 0.001). During HIIT, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly (p = 0.037) with no significant change in CON (p = 0.241; between group difference p = 0.027). Peak heart rate (HRpeak ) increased significantly by 4.3 beats per minute (p = 0.014) after HIIT with no significant change in CON (p = 0.34; between group difference p = 0.027). Heart rate recovery (HRrecovery ) improved in both groups with a trend toward greater improvement after HIIT. The 5-month washout showed a significant loss of improvement. HIIT was well tolerated, had a superior effect on oxygen uptake, and led to an unexpected increase in HRpeak accompanied by a faster HRrecovery . This indicates that the benefits of HIIT are partly a result of improved chronotropic response.

Concepts: Blood, Blood pressure, Artery, Pulse, Organ transplant, Heart rate, High-intensity interval training, Interval training


In a cross-sectional study, we assessed effects of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) or rapamycin on T-regulatory (Treg) cells from children with stable liver (n = 53) or kidney (n = 9) allografts several years posttransplant. We analyzed Treg number, phenotype, suppressive function, and methylation at the Treg-specific demethylation region (TSDR) using Tregs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Forty-eight patients received CNI (39 as monotherapy) and 12 patients received rapamycin (9 as monotherapy). Treg numbers diminished over time on either regimen, but reached significance only with CNI (r =-0.424, p = 0.017). CNI levels inversely correlated with Treg number (r =-0.371, p = 0.026), and positively correlated with CD127+ expression by Tregs (r = 0.437, p = 0.023). Patients with CNI levels >3.6 ng/mL had weaker Treg function than those with levels <3.6 ng/mL, whereas rapamycin therapy positively correlated with Treg numbers (r = 0.628, p = 0.029) and their expression of CTLA4 (r = 0.726, p = 0.041). Overall, CTLA4 expression, TSDR demethylation and an absence of CD127 were important for Treg suppressive function. We conclude that rapamycin has beneficial effects on Treg biology, whereas long-term and high dose CNI use may impair Treg number, function and phenotype, potentially acting as a barrier to attaining host hyporesponsiveness to an allograft.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Glucose, Organ transplant, Autoimmunity, PBMC, Regulatory T cell


Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a condition of irreversible small airway fibrosis, is the principal factor limiting long-term survival after lung transplantation. Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), techniques central to lung transplant clinical practice, provide a unique opportunity to interrogate the lung allograft during BOS development and identify potential disease mechanisms or biomarkers. Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have evaluated the BAL cellular composition, cytokine profiles and protein constituents in lung transplant recipients with BOS. To date, however, no summative evaluation of this literature has been reported. We developed and applied objective criteria to qualitatively rank the strength of associations between BAL parameters and BOS in order to provide a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the literature. Our analysis indicates that several BAL parameters, including neutrophil count, interleukin-8, alpha defensins and MMP-9, demonstrate highly replicable associations with BOS. Additionally, we suggest that considerable opportunity exists to increase the knowledge gained from BAL analyses in BOS through increased sample sizes, covariant adjustment and standardization of the BAL technique. Further efforts to leverage analysis of BAL constituents in BOS may offer great potential to provide additional in-depth and mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of this complex disease.

Concepts: Scientific method, Pulmonology, Evaluation, Cystic fibrosis, Assessment, Organ transplant, Bronchoalveolar lavage, Bronchiolitis obliterans


The current outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has raised great concern worldwide, but its impact on transplant recipients is unknown. We report here the clinical features and therapeutic course of the first reported renal transplant recipient with confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia. This is a 52-year-old man who received kidney transplantation 12 years ago. His overall clinical characteristics (symptoms, laboratory examinations, and chest CT) were similar to those of non-transplanted COVID-19 patients. Following a treatment regimen consisting of reduced immunosuppressant use and low dose methylprednisolone-based therapy, the COVID-19 pneumonia in this long-term immunosuppressive patient was successfully recovered. This effectively treated case has reference value for the future treatment of other transplant patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.


The optimal management in transplant recipients with COVID-19 remains uncertain. The main concern is the ability of immunosuppressed patients to generate sufficient immunity for antiviral protection. Here, we report on immune monitoring facilitating a successful outcome of severe SARS-CoV-2-associated pneumonia, meningoencephalitis, gastroenteritis and acute kidney and pancreas graft failure in a pancreas-kidney transplant recipient. Despite the very low numbers of circulating B-, NK-, and T-cells identified in follow up, a strong SARS-CoV-2 reactive T-cell response was observed. Importantly, we detected T-cells reactive to Spike, Membrane, and Nucleocapsid proteins of SARS-CoV-2 with majority of T-cells showing polyfunctional pro-inflammatory Th1 phenotype at all analyzed time points. Antibodies against Spike protein were also detected with increasing titers in follow up. Neutralization tests confirmed their antiviral protection. A correlation between cellular and humoral immunity was observed underscoring the specificity of demonstrated data. We conclude that analyzing the kinetics of non-specific and SARS-CoV-2-reactive cellular and humoral immunity can facilitate the clinical decision on immunosuppression adjustment and allow successful outcome as demonstrated in the current clinical case. While the antiviral protection of the detected SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cells requires further evaluation, our data prove an ability mounting a strong SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cell response with functional capacity in immunosuppressed patients.


An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that began in Wuhan, China, has spread rapidly and has already taken on pandemic proportions. After China, Italy is the country with the highest number of cases so far (41,035 confirmed cases according to Dipartimento della Protezione Civile as of March 19, and 3,405 deaths). In Northern Italy, where the current prevalence of confirmed cases has surpassed in some areas 2 per 1,000 people, kidney transplant patients are getting infected and starting to develop coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


In 2016 over 5 million reconstructive procedures were performed in the USA. The recent successes of clinical vascularized composite allotransplantations (VCA), hand and face transplantations included, established the tremendous potential of these life-enhancing reconstructions. Nevertheless, Due to limited availability and lifelong immunosuppression, application is limited. Long term banking of composite transplants may increase the availability of esthetically compatible parts with partial or complete HLA matching, reducing the risk of rejection and the immunosuppressive burden. The study purpose was to develop efficient protocols for the cryopreservation and transplantation of a complete rodent limb. Directional freezing is a method in which a sample is cooled at a constant velocity linear temperature gradient enabling precise control of the process and ice crystal formation. Vitrification is an alternative cryopreservation method in which the sample solidifies without the formation of ice crystals. Testing both methods on a rat hindlimb composite tissue transplantation model, we found reliable, reproducible and stable ways to preserve composite tissue. We believe that with further research and development cryopreservation may lead to composite tissue “banks”. This may lead to a paradigm shift from few and far apart emergent surgeries to wide scale, well planned, and better controlled elective surgeries. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Crystal, Ice, Organ transplant, Nucleation, Copyright, Freezing, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation


The median waiting time for patients with MELD ≥ 35 decreased from 18 days in 2012 to 9 days in 2014, after implementation of the Share 35 policy in June 2013. Similarly, mortality among candidates listed with MELD ≥ 35 decreased from 366 per 100 waitlist years in 2012 to 315 in 2014. The number of new active candidates added to the pediatric liver transplant waiting list in 2014 was 655, down from a peak of 826 in 2005. The number of prevalent candidates (on the list on December 31 of the given year) continued to decline, 401 active and 173 inactive. The number of deceased donor pediatric liver transplants peaked at 542 in 2008 and was 478 in 2014. The number of living donor liver pediatric transplants was 52 in 2014; most were from donors closely related to the recipients. Graft survival continued to improve among pediatric recipients of deceased donor and living donor livers.

Concepts: Cirrhosis, Liver, Organ transplant, Liver transplantation