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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


We describe a case of proven transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from lung donor to recipient. The donor had no clinical history or findings suggestive of infection with SARS-CoV-2 and tested negative by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab obtained within 48 hours of procurement. Lower respiratory tract testing was not performed. The recipient developed fever, hypotension and pulmonary infiltrates on post-transplant day 3, and RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 on an NP swab specimen was non-reactive, but positive on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. One thoracic surgeon present during the transplantation procedure developed COVID-19. Sequence analysis of isolates from donor BAL fluid (obtained at procurement), the recipient, and the infected thoracic surgeon proved donor origin of recipient and health care worker infection. No other organs were procured from this donor. Transplant centers and organ procurement organizations should perform SARS-CoV-2 testing of lower respiratory tract specimens from potential lung donors, and consider enhanced personal protective equipment for health care workers involved in lung procurement and transplantation.


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


Spain has been one of the most affected countries by the COVID-19 outbreak. As of 28 April 2020, the number of confirmed cases is 210,773, including 102,548 patients recovered, more than 10,300 admitted to the ICU, and 23,822 deaths, with a global case fatality rate of 11.3%. From the perspective of donation and transplantation, the Spanish system first focused on safety issues, providing recommendations for donor evaluation and testing, and to rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection in potential recipients prior to transplantation. Since the country entered into an epidemiological scenario of sustained community transmission and saturation of intensive care, developing donation and transplantation procedures has become highly complex. Since the national state of alarm was declared in Spain on 13 March 2020, the mean number of donors has declined from 7.2 to 1.2 per day, and the mean number of transplants from 16.1 to 2.1 per day. Increased mortality on the waiting list may become a collateral damage of this terrible pandemic.


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


We report four cases of breast cancer transmission to transplant recipients from a single organ donor that occurred years after donation. The diagnosis of breast cancer was occult at the time of donation. All of the recipients developed a histologically similar type of breast cancer within 16 months to 6 years after transplantation. Three out of four recipients died as a result of widely metastasized disease. One of the recipients survived after transplant nephrectomy followed by cessation of immunosuppression and chemotherapy. This extraordinary case points out the often fatal consequences of donor derived breast cancer and suggests that removal of the donor organ and restoration of immunity can induce complete remission. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Organ transplant, Organ donation


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 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.


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.