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Plasma immune signatures can predict rejection-free survival in the first year after pediatric liver transplantation

Title: Plasma immune signatures can predict rejection-free survival in the first year after pediatric liver transplantation  

Source: Journal of Hepatology 2024, May 29. [Epublication]

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Date of publication: May 2024

Publication type: Article

Abstract: Background & aims: After pediatric liver transplantation (pLT), children undergo life-long immunosuppression since reliable biomarkers for the assessment of rejection probability are scarce. In the multicentre (n=7) prospective clinical cohort “ChilSFree” study, we aimed to characterize longitudinal dynamics of soluble and cellular immune mediators during the first year after pLT and identify early biomarkers associated with outcome.

Methods: Using paired Luminex-based multiplex technique and flow cytometry, we characterized longitudinal dynamics of soluble immune mediators (SIM, n=50) and immune cells in the blood of 244 patients at 8 visits over one year: before, 7/14/21/28 days, 3/6/12 months after pLT.

Results: The unsupervised clustering of patients based on SIM profiles revealed 6 unique SIM signatures associated with clinical outcome. From 3 signatures linked to improved outcome, one was associated with one-year-long rejection-free survival and stable graft function and was characterized by low levels of pro-inflammatory (CXCL8/9/10/12, CCL7, SCGF-β, sICAM-1), high levels of regenerative (SCF, TNF-β), and pro-apoptotic (TRAIL) SIM (all, p<0.001, fold change >100). Of note, this SIM signature appeared two weeks after pLT and remained stable over the entire year, pointing towards its potential as a novel early biomarker for minimizing or weaning immunosuppression. In the blood of these patients, a higher frequency of CD56bright NK cells (p<0.01), a known hallmark also associated with operationally tolerant pLT patients, was detected. The concordance of the model for prediction of rejection based on identified SIM signatures was 0.715, and 0.795, in combination with living-related transplantation as co-variate, respectively.

Conclusions: SIM blood signatures may enable the non-invasive and early assessment of rejection risks in the first year after pLT, paving the way to improved therapeutic options.

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