Clinic for Transplantation Immunology and Nephrology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Humoral alloimmunity mediated by anti-human leucocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies is a major challenge in kidney transplantation and impairs the longevity of the transplanted organ. The immunological risk of an individual patient is currently mainly assessed by detection of HLA antibodies in the serum, which are produced by long-lived bone marrow-residing plasma cells. However, humoral alloimmunity is complex, and alloreactive memory B cells constitute an additional factor in the interplay of immune cells. These recirculating "silent" cells are responsible for the immunological recall response by differentiating into antibody-producing cells upon antigen re-encounter. Historically, due to the lack of appropriate and routinely applicable assays to determine the presence and HLA specificity of alloreactive memory B cells, their contribution to the humoral alloimmune response has clinically often been suspected but could not be determined. In this review, we give an overview of recent advances in techniques to detect alloreactive memory B cells and discuss their strengths and limitations. Furthermore, we summarize experiences with these techniques in alloimmunized individuals and transplant recipients, thereby emphasizing unmet needs to be addressed in future studies.
Int J Immunogenet. 2020 May 10. doi: 10.1111/iji.12493.