Assessment of the immune response in kidney transplant patients.
Background: Management of a transplant recipient involves the use of multiple immunosuppressant drugs. Currently there is no test that reflects the overall immune status of the patient. This results in under or over suppression of the immune system and consequently increases in morbidity and mortality rates. Evaluation of the proliferative response of PBMC's to a mitogen PHA by measurement of intracellular ATP was evaluated as a tool to assess the immune response in kidney transplant patients. Method: PBMC's were separated from the blood samples of healthy controls and kidney transplant patients on cyclosporine, sirolimus, and tacrolimus based regimens by density gradient centrifugation, cells were counted and incubated overnight with and without PHA. The luciferin-Iuciferase enzyme reaction which induces bioluminescence and the Turner Biosystem luminometer were used to measure intracellular ATP levels in relative light units (RLU). An A TP standard curve was generated for each test. Results: The ATP (nglml) levels measured in the transplant recipients were lower and statistically significantly different (p< 0.0001) than the healthy controls. No statistically significant difference was measured between the cycIosporine and sirolimus drug groups. Patients on tacrolimus gave a statistically significant (p<O.0001) stronger immune response than those receiving cyclosporine and sirolimus. Overall, the immune response results of kidney transplant patients were statistically significantly lower than the healthy control by 981 nglml. Linear regression analysis revealed no correlation between patient A TP (nglml) levels and therapeutic drug blood levels, immunosuppressant drug dosages, creatinine levels and white cell counts. The immune responses of patients who were diagnosed with infection or were clinically stable were characterised as low or moderate, of interest, one patient who was diagnosed with rejection was found to have a strong immune response (>501 nglml ATP). Conclusion: Future studies to determine the predictive value of the A TP assay in directing immunosuppressive therapy are required. The assay described in this study is simple, sensitive and rapid and has possible application in immunological monitoring in a variety of conditions that affects the immune system. Keywords: kidney transplantation, immunosuppression, bioluminescence, lymphocyte, Adenosine Triphosphate (A TP), Phytohemmagglutinin (PHA)