Introduction: Acute antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) leads to graft loss. The combination of plasmapheresis (PP), intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and rituximab (RTX) has been reported to be effective therapy. Patients and methods: Between October 2005 and September 2009, 8 (4.7%) kidney transplant recipients developed AMR, diagnosed by severe acute rejection and extensive C4d staining in peritubular capillaries. Results: All patients were treated with two to six sessions of PP with IVIG added after the last PP. In two patients, RTX was prescribed after PP and IVIG. Baseline immunosuppression was based on steroids, mycophenolate mofetil or azathioprine, and tacrolimus or cyclosporine or everolimus. The presence of subsequent significant decrease in anti-HLA class I antibodies was demonstrated in a highly sensitized patient before and after transplantation with PP treatment. An increase was observed before the diagnosis of AMR. After a mean follow-up of 10 months (range = 1-23), patient and graft survivals were 100% and 50%, respectively. Three patients lost their transplants to AMR refractory to treatment and one patient, due to interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy at 23 months after AMR. Finally, four patients recovered renal function, showing a mean serum creatinine of 2.2 +/- 0.45 mg/dL. Conclusions: Early diagnosis and treatment with PP, IVIG, and RTX may resolve AMR. PP before and after transplantation in high-risk patients may result in anti-HLA class I and class II antibody removal from plasma and prevention of AMR.
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