Impact and predictors of positive response to desensitization in pediatric heart transplant candidates.
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<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Desensitization, the process of reducing anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies in sensitized patients awaiting heart transplantation (HT), has unclear efficacy in pediatric HT candidates.</p>
<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>Pediatric HT candidates listed at our institution between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2018 were retrospectively evaluated. Sensitization was defined as the calculated panel reactive antibody (cPRA) ≥ 10% with ≥ 1 a strong positive antibody. The desensitization response was defined as a ≥ 25% reduction in the mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) for ≥ 90% of the strong positive antibodies on follow-up panel reactive antibody (PRA) testing before waitlist removal, HT, or death (data available for 13 patients).</p>
<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>The HT candidates were categorized as sensitized receiving desensitization therapy (ST, n = 14), sensitized not receiving therapy (SNT, n = 18), or non-sensitized (n = 55). A desensitization response was observed in 8 (62%) of the ST upon repeat PRA testing, with the ST responders receiving more doses of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) (8 vs 2, p < 0.05). The anti-HLA class I antibodies were particularly resistant for non-responders (p = 1.9 × 10). The combination of homograft and ventricular assist device was more sensitizing than either alone (p = 3.1 × 10). However, these sensitization risk factors did not impact the desensitization response. The ST was associated with a higher likelihood of remaining listed and a longer waitlist time without substantially impacting the HT rate, waitlist mortality, or early post-HT outcomes.</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>Most ST patients had a favorable response to desensitization, with a dose-dependent response observed for IVIG. The anti-HLA class likely impacts the ST response, whereas traditional sensitization risk factors had no impact on the response.</p>
J. Heart Lung Transplant.