Donor-derived, cell-free DNA levels by next-generation targeted sequencing are elevated in allograft rejection after lung transplantation. ERJ open research Khush, K. K., De Vlaminck, I., Luikart, H., Ross, D. J., Nicolls, M. R. 2021; 7 (1)


Surveillance after lung transplantation is critical to the detection of acute cellular rejection (ACR) and prevention of chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD). Therefore, we measured donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) implementing a clinical-grade, next-generation targeted sequencing assay in 107 plasma samples from 38 unique lung transplantation recipients with diagnostic cohorts classified as: (1) biopsy-confirmed or treated ACR, (2) antibody-mediated rejection (AMR), (3) obstructive CLAD, (4) allograft infection (INFXN) and (5) Stable healthy allografts (STABLE). Our principal findings are as follows: (1) dd-cfDNA level was elevated in ACR (median 0.91%; interquartile range (IQR): 0.39-2.07%), CLAD (2.06%; IQR: 0.57-3.67%) and an aggregated cohort of rejection encompassing allograft injury (1.06%; IQR: 0.38-2.51%), compared with the STABLE cohort (0.38%; IQR: 0.23-0.87%) (p=0.02); (2) dd-cfDNA level with AMR was elevated (1.34%; IQR: 0.34-2.40%) compared to STABLE, although it did not reach statistical significance (p=0.07) due to limitations in sample size; (3) there was no difference in dd-cfDNA for allograft INFXN (0.39%; IQR: 0.18-0.67%) versus STABLE, which may relate to differences in "tissue injury" with the spectrum of bronchial colonisation versus invasive infection; (4) there was no difference for dd-cfDNA in unilateral versus bilateral lung transplantation; (5) "optimal threshold" for dd-cfDNA for aggregated rejection events representing allograft injury was determined as 0.85%, with sensitivity=55.6%, specificity=75.8%, positive predictive value (PPV)=43.3% and negative predictive value (NPV)=83.6%. Measurement of plasma dd-cfDNA may be a clinically useful tool for the assessment of lung allograft health and surveillance for "tissue injury" with a spectrum of rejection.

View details for DOI 10.1183/23120541.00462-2020

View details for PubMedID 33532456