• Immune monitoring after pediatric liver transplantation - the prospective ChilSFree cohort study.

      Goldschmidt, Imeke; Karch, André; Mikolajczyk, Rafael; Mutschler, Frauke; Junge, Norman; Pfister, Eva Doreen; Möhring, Tamara; d'Antiga, Lorenzo; McKiernan, Patrick; Kelly, Deirdre; et al. (2018-05-16)
      Although trough levels of immunosuppressive drugs are largely used to monitor immunosuppressive therapy after solid organ transplantation, there is still no established tool that allows for a validated assessment of functional degree of immunosuppression or the identification of clinically relevant over- or under-immunosuppression, depending on graft homeostasis. Reliable non-invasive markers to predict biopsy proven acute rejection (BPAR) do not exist. Literature data suggest that longitudinal measurements of immune markers might be predictive of BPAR, but data in children are scarce. We therefore propose an observational prospective cohort study focusing on immune monitoring in children after liver transplantation. We aim to describe immune function in a cohort of children before and during the first year after liver transplantation and plan to investigate how the immune function profile is associated with clinical and laboratory findings. In an international multicenter prospective approach, children with end-stage liver disease who undergo liver transplantation are enrolled to the study and receive extensive immune monitoring before and at 1, 2, 3, 4 weeks and 3, 6, 12 months after transplantation, and whenever a clinically indicated liver biopsy is scheduled. Blood samples are analyzed for immune cell numbers and circulating levels of cytokines, chemokines and factors of angiogenesis reflecting immune cell activation. Statistical analysis will focus on the identification of trajectorial patterns of immune reactivity predictive for systemic non-inflammatory states, infectious complications or BPAR using joint modelling approaches. The ChilSFree study will help to understand the immune response after pLTx in different states of infection or rejection. It may provide insight into response mechanisms eventually facilitating immune tolerance towards the graft. Our analysis may yield an applicable immune panel for non-invasive early detection of acute cellular rejection, with the prospect of individually tailoring immunosuppressive therapy. The international collaborative set-up of this study allows for an appropriate sample size which is otherwise difficult to achieve in the field of pediatric liver transplantation.
    • Immune Status in Children Before Liver Transplantation-A Cross-Sectional Analysis Within the ChilsSFree Multicentre Cohort Study.

      Möhring, Tamara; Karch, André; Falk, Christine S; Laue, Tobias; d'Antiga, Lorenzo; Debray, Dominique; Hierro, Loreto; Kelly, Deirdre; McLin, Valerie; McKiernan, Patrick; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Background: Both, markers of cellular immunity and serum cytokines have been proposed as potential biomarkers for graft rejection after liver transplantation. However, no good prognostic model is available for the prediction of acute cellular rejection. The impact of underlying disease and demographic factors on immune status before pediatric liver transplantation (pLTx) is still poorly understood. We investigated expression of immune markers before pLTx, in order to better understand the pre-transplant immune status. Improved knowledge of the impact of pre-transplant variables may enhance our understanding of immunological changes post pLTx in the future. Methods: This is a cross-sectional analysis of data from the ChilSFree study, a European multicentre cohort study investigating the longitudinal patterns of immune response before and after pLTx. Immune cell counts and soluble immune markers were measured in 155 children 1–30 days before pLTx by TruCount analysis and BioPlex assays. Results were logarithmised due to skewed distributions and then compared according to age, sex, and diagnosis using t-tests, ANOVAs, and Tukey post-hoc tests. The association between immune markers at time of pLTx and patients' age was assessed using a fractional polynomial approach. Multivariable regression models were used to assess the relative contribution of each factor. Results: Sex had no effect on immune status. We found strong evidence for age-specific differences in the immune status. The majority of immune markers decreased in a log-linear way with increasing age. T and B cells showed a sharp increase within the first months of life followed by a log-linear decline in older age groups. Several immune markers were strongly associated with underlying diagnoses. The effects of age and underlying disease remained virtually unchanged when adjusting for each other in multivariable models. Discussion: We show for the first time that age and diagnosis are major independent determinants of cellular and soluble immune marker levels in children with end-stage liver disease. These results need to be considered for future research on predictive immune monitoring after pLTx.