Table_2_The Number of Donor-Specific IL-21 Producing Cells Before and After Transplantation Predicts Kidney Graft Rejection.DOCX

<p>Interleukin (IL)-21 supports induction and expansion of CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells, and can also regulate the differentiation of B cells into antibody-producing plasma cells. We questioned whether the number of circulating donor-specific IL-21 producing cells (pc) can predict kidney transplant rejection, and evaluated this in two different patient cohorts. The first analysis was done on pre-transplantation samples of 35 kidney transplant recipients of whom 15 patients developed an early acute rejection. The second study concerned peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples from 46 patients obtained at 6 months after kidney transplantation of whom 13 developed late rejection. Significantly higher frequencies of donor-specific IL-21 pc were found by Elispot assay in both patients who developed early and late rejection compared to those without rejection. In addition, low frequencies of donor-specific IL-21 pc were associated with higher rejection-free survival. Moreover, low pre-transplant donor-specific IL-21 pc numbers were associated with the absence of anti-HLA antibodies. Donor-reactive IL-21 was mainly produced by CD4<sup>+</sup> T cells, including CD4<sup>+</sup> follicular T helper cells. In conclusion, the number of donor-specific IL-21 pc is associated with an increased risk of both early and late rejection, giving it the potential to be a new biomarker in kidney transplantation.</p>