Gene expression signature of tolerance and lymphocyte subsets in stable renal transplants: Results of a cross-sectional study

Francesc Moreso, Irina B. Torres, Monica Martínez-Gallo, Susana Benlloch, Carme Cantarell, Manel Perelló, José Jimeno, Ricardo Pujol-Borrell, Daniel Seron

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In kidney transplants operational tolerance has been associated with up-regulation of B cell differentiation genes and an increased number of total, naive and transitional peripheral B cells. The aim is to evaluate tolerance biomarkers in different cohorts of stable renal transplants under immunosuppression. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study conducted in renal transplants. We evaluate genetic tolerance signature and lymphocyte subsets in stable transplants treated with calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) at 1 (n=15), 5 (n=14) and 10 (n=16) years, and azathioprine-treated transplants followed 30. years (n=8). Healthy volunteers (n=10) and patients with chronic rejection (n=15) served as controls. Results: We confirm that peripheral expression of IGKV1D-13 and IGKV4-1 genes by RT-PCR distinguish tolerant (n=10) from stable transplants (n=10) provided by the International Tolerance Network. Tolerance signature was defined as the lowest expression for both genes in tolerant patients. In CNI-treated patients, genetic signature of tolerance and B cells showed a time-dependent increase not observed in azathioprine-treated patients (p. <. 0.01). Genetic tolerance signature was observed in 0% at 1, 7% at 5 and 25% at 10-years while it was not observed in azathioprine-treated and chronic rejection patients. Fifteen out of 16 CNI-treated transplants at 10. years were revaluated 3. months apart. Nine did not show the tolerance signature in any determination, 4 in one and 2 in both determinations. Genetic signature of tolerance was associated with an increase of total, naive and transitional B cells (p. <. 0.05). Conclusions: IGKV1D-13 and IGKV4-1 gene expression and its linked B cell populations increase during follow up in CNI-treated patients. At 10. years, 2 out of 15 CNI treated patients consistently express biomarkers associated with true tolerance. In azathioprine-treated patients these biomarkers were down-regulated. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-16
JournalTransplant Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • B cells
  • Chronic rejection
  • Immunosuppression
  • Lymphocyte subpopulations
  • Operational tolerance
  • Renal transplantation


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