Background. Highly sensitized patients often have antibodies directed against the HLA Bw4 and Bw6 epitopes. Because of the high frequency of these epitopes, when present, these antibodies result in a high incidence of positive cross-matches. We sought to determine whether antibodies specific for Bw4 or Bw6 affected renal allograft outcome. Methods. The effect of mismatches for the HLA class I public epitopes, Bw4 and Bw6, was examined in 72 recipients of one haplotype matched recipients of living, related donor renal allografts selected to control for degree of HLA mismatch. Analysis of the production of HLA-specific antibody was performed for 180 recipients of failed cadaveric allografts by complement-dependent cytotoxicity tests and by an enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay (ELISA). Results. No significant difference was observed in the incidence of acute rejection, number of rejection episodes or 1-year allograft survival among Bw4/6 matched versus mismatched recipients of one haplotype matched allografts. Additionally, no significant difference in the development of chronic allograft nephropathy was noted among 56 recipients followed long-term (≥3 years). In the recipients of failed cadaveric transplants, Bw4/6 mismatching was associated with the frequency and magnitude of production of HLA-specific antibody. However, the panel reactive antibodies correlated with the number of HLA-A and -B mismatches, and there was no additional impact of Bw4/6 mismatching. IgG, HLA-specific antibodies were found to be significantly increased among patients homozygous for Bw4 or Bw6, whether or not there was a Bw4/6 mismatch. Conclusions. Mismatching for Bw4 or Bw6 does not confer any independent, increased risk for humoral sensitization or renal allograft failure.
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