The critical role of plasmapheresis in ABO-incompatible renal transplantation

Aaron A.R. Tobian, R. Sue Shirey, Robert A. Montgomery, Paul M. Ness, Karen E. King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Thousands of patients with chronic renal failure die yearly and are unable to have a kidney transplant due to the severe shortage of donors. Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is performed to remove ABO antibodies and permit ABO-incompatible (ABO-I) kidney transplants, but there is only limited research within this area and a lack of standardized protocols for TPE. This article reviews the literature to provide a historical perspective of TPE for ABO-I kidney transplantation and also provides the Johns Hopkins Hospital protocol with a focus on both titers and TPE. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The TPE treatment plan is based on ABO titers with the goal of a titer of 16 or less at the anti-human globulin (AHG) phase before surgery. Pretransplant therapy consists of every-other-day TPE followed immediately by cytomegalovirus hyperimmune globulin. ABO antibody titers are closely monitored before and after transplantation. After transplantation, TPE therapy is performed for all patients to prevent rebound of anti-A and anti-B titers until tolerance or accommodation occurs. TPE is discontinued and reinstituted based on the clinical criteria of creatinine levels, biopsy results, and ABO titer. RESULTS: Fifty-three ABO-I kidney transplants have been completed with no episodes of hyperacute antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) and only three episodes of AMR. One-year death-censored graft survival is 100 percent and patient survival is 97.6 percent. CONCLUSIONS: While randomized clinical trials are needed to evaluate the optimal method and protocol to remove ABO antibodies, the current literature and our results indicate a critical role for TPE in ABO-I renal transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2453-2460
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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