Objectives: Central perivenulitis can occur in association with T-cell-mediated rejection and can sometimes require strong immunosuppressant therapy as refractory rejection. Furthermore, patients with central perivenulitis are more likely to have subsequent episodes of T-cell-mediated rejection and develop chronic rejection than those without central perivenulitis. We retrospectively analyzed clinical data of pediatric patients with episodes of T-cell-mediated rejection according to severity of central perivenulitis and monitored HLA-DR-positive CD8-positive T cells and recent thymic emigrants during treatment for T-cell-mediated rejection. Materials and Methods: We identified biopsy-proven T-cell-mediated rejection in 50 liver transplant recipients (45 with living-related donors, 5 with deceased donors) between September 2014 and August 2018. Lymphocyte subsets in peripheral blood samples were analyzed. Results: Of 50 pediatric patients, 30 were boys and 20 were girls (median age at transplant of 1.1 y; inter-quartile range, 0.6-6.2 y). Central perivenulitis was found in 46 patients (92%), which was mild in 13, moderate in 16, and severe in 17. Antithymocyte globulin was more frequently administered to patients with severe central perivenulitis than others (P < .05). Patients with antithymocyte globulin treatment were less likely to have subsequent episodes of T-cell-mediated rejection than those without this treatment (P < .05). The absolute number of CD8-positive HLA-DR-positive T cells in patients during treatment was significantly higher than in control patients (P < .05). The absolute number of recent thymic emigrants in patients with active infection was significantly lower than in patients without infection (P < .05). Conclusions: Our results suggest the efficacy and safety of antithymocyte globulin for treating T-cell-mediated rejection with severe central perivenulitis in pediatric liver transplant recipients and suggest that anti-thymocyte globulin can prevent subsequent episodes of T-cell-mediated rejection. Analyzing lymphocyte subsets during treatment for rejection may help highlight viable therapeutic strategies for achieving a good outcome.
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