Monitoring Pharmacologically Induced Immunosuppression by Immune Repertoire Sequencing to Detect Acute Allograft Rejection in Heart Transplant Patients: A Proof-of-Concept Diagnostic Accuracy Study PLOS MEDICINE Vollmers, C., De Vlaminck, I., Valantine, H. A., Penland, L., Luikart, H., Strehl, C., Cohen, G., Khush, K. K., Quake, S. R. 2015; 12 (10)


It remains difficult to predict and to measure the efficacy of pharmacological immunosuppression. We hypothesized that measuring the B-cell repertoire would enable assessment of the overall level of immunosuppression after heart transplantation.In this proof-of-concept study, we implemented a molecular-barcode-based immune repertoire sequencing assay that sensitively and accurately measures the isotype and clonal composition of the circulating B cell repertoire. We used this assay to measure the temporal response of the B cell repertoire to immunosuppression after heart transplantation. We selected a subset of 12 participants from a larger prospective cohort study ( NCT01985412) that is ongoing at Stanford Medical Center and for which enrollment started in March 2010. This subset of 12 participants was selected to represent post-heart-transplant events, with and without acute rejection (six participants with moderate-to-severe rejection and six without). We analyzed 130 samples from these patients, with an average follow-up period of 15 mo. Immune repertoire sequencing enables the measurement of a patient's net state of immunosuppression (correlation with tacrolimus level, r = -0.867, 95% CI -0.968 to -0.523, p = 0.0014), as well as the diagnosis of acute allograft rejection, which is preceded by increased immune activity with a sensitivity of 71.4% (95% CI 30.3% to 94.9%) and a specificity of 82.0% (95% CI 72.1% to 89.1%) (cell-free donor-derived DNA as noninvasive gold standard). To illustrate the potential of immune repertoire sequencing to monitor atypical post-transplant trajectories, we analyzed two more patients, one with chronic infections and one with amyloidosis. A larger, prospective study will be needed to validate the power of immune repertoire sequencing to predict rejection events, as this proof-of-concept study is limited to a small number of patients who were selected based on several criteria including the availability of a large number of samples and the absence or presence of rejection events.If confirmed in larger, prospective studies, the method described here has potential applications in the tailored management of post-transplant immunosuppression and, more broadly, as a method for assessing the overall activity of the immune system.

View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001890

View details for Web of Science ID 000364466600008

View details for PubMedID 26466143

View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4605651