Current protocols and outcomes of ABO-incompatible kidney transplantation based on a single-center experience

Masayoshi Okumi, Yoichi Kakuta, Kohei Unagami, Toshio Takagi, Junpei Iizuka, Masashi Inui, Hideki Ishida, Kazunari Tanabe


ABO-incompatible living kidney transplantation (ABO-ILKT) is an effective option for increasing living kidney transplant opportunities. ABO-ILKT has been conducted in our institution since 1989 to widen the indication for living kidney transplantation. ABO-ILKT is considered to require extra treatment, and it has increased risks compared with ABO-compatible living kidney transplantation (ABO-CLKT). In the past two decades, some protocols have removed anti-blood-type antibodies to prevent the production of antibodies. Additionally, we have made considerable changes to our ABO-ILKT protocol as new immunosuppressive agents have been developed. Consequently, increased immunosuppression and immunological understanding have helped shape recent desensitization protocols. Herein, we review the history, therapeutic strategy, pathology, and future directions of ABO-ILKT. Our standard immunosuppressive regimen and desensitization protocol for ABO-ILKT recipients consist of low doses of tacrolimus (TAC), mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), and rituximab; several sessions of double filtration plasmapheresis; and basiliximab induction. We do not use thymoglobulin induction, intravenous immunoglobulin, or prophylactic post-transplant plasmapheresis. Recently, ABO-ILKT has been recognized as a useful alternative therapy for end-stage kidney disease with ABO-incompatibility, and its outcome is comparable to that of ABO-CLKT.