Background Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) has been used to treat chronic rejection after lung transplantation (LTx). We investigated the effect of ECP on several immune parameters that have been associated with poor lung function, including donor-specific antibodies (DSA) to human leukocyte antigen (HLA), antibodies against the lung-associated self-antigens (SAg), Kα1-tubulin (Kα1T), collagen I and V, and circulating levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Methods Sera were collected from post-LTx patients diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans before and 6 months after initiation of ECP. DSA and cytokine levels were measured by Luminex (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA). Changes in lung function over the 6 months preceding and after the initiation of ECP were measured by retrospective analysis of spirometry performed at routine clinic visits. Results ECP was associated with a significant decline in DSA levels as well as antibodies to lung-associated SAg. ECP also reduced circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. These immunologic changes were associated with a significant 63% reduction in the rate of decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second over a 1-year period. Though statistically insignificant, a higher rate of clearance of antibodies to lung-associated SAg was strongly associated with better response to ECP. Conclusions ECP is associated with a reduction in the levels of circulating DSA, antibodies to lung-associated SAg (Kα1T, collagen I, and collagen V), and circulating levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines. We propose that these changes contribute to the beneficial effect of ECP in reducing the decline in lung function.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant HL-056643 and the BJC Foundation (T.M.).
- chronic rejection
- donor-specific antibodies
- extracorporeal photopheresis
- lung transplantation