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DSA are associated with more graft injury, more fibrosis and upregulation of rejection associated transcripts in subclinical rejection.Höfer, Anne; Jonigk, Danny; Hartleben, Björn; Verboom, Murielle; Hallensleben, Michael; Hübscher, Stefan G; Manns, Michael P; Jaeckel, Elmar; Taubert, Richard; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins , 2019-10-23)Background: Subclinical T cell-mediated rejection (subTCMR) is commonly found after liver transplantation and has a good short-term prognosis, even when it is left untreated. Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) are putatively associated with a worse prognosis for recipient and graft after liver transplantation. Methods: To assess the immune regulation in subTCMR grafts, gene expression of 93 transcripts for graft injury, tolerance and immune regulation was analyzed in 77 biopsies with “no histological rejection” (NHR; n=25), “clinical TCMR” (cTMCR; n=16) and subTCMR (n=36). In addition, all available subTCMR biopsies (n=71) were tested for DSA with bead assays. Results: SubTCMR showed heterogeneous and intermediate expression profiles of transcripts that were upregulated in cTCMR. Graft gene expression suggested a lower activation of effector lymphocytes and a higher activation of regulatory T cells in grafts with subTCMR compared to cTCMR.DSA positivity in subTCMR was associated with histological evidence of more severe graft inflammation and fibrosis. This more severe DSA+ associated graft injury in subTCMR was converged with an upregulation of cTCMR associated transcripts. In nonsupervised analysis DSA positive subTCMR mostly clustered together with cTCMR, while DSA negative subTCMR clustered together with NHR. Conclusion: T cell-mediated rejection seem to form a continuum of alloimmune activation. Although subTCMR exhibited less expression of TCMR associated transcript, DSA positivity in subTCMR was associated with an upregulation of rejection associated transcripts. The identification of DSA positive subclinical rejection might help to define patients with more inflammation in the graft and development of fibrosis.