Transplanted livers help body defend against organ rejection, Mayo Clinic study finds

April 18, 2018

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- For decades, transplant experts have observed that liver transplant recipients often need less anti-rejection medication, known as immunosuppressive drugs, than recipients of other solid organs. Similarly, when patients receive a multiple-organ transplant that includes the liver along with any other organ, they need less immunosuppressive medication and have less incidence of rejection even if they are highly sensitive to cellular bad actors, known as antigens, from the donor organs.

The Mayo Clinic research explains why.

"This study shows that the liver transplant itself regulates the host's immune responses. Compared to the other organs, the liver is immunologically a very active organ, so it is capable of regulating the immune responses against itself, said lead author Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D., a transplant surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

When patients undergo a dual kidney-liver transplant, the liver has a protective effect on the kidney, the study found.

Researchers compared the blood samples of organ recipients a year after a kidney transplant, liver transplant or kidney-liver transplant. It found that patients who received a liver and kidney at the same time, or a liver alone, had fewer of the cells that leap into action to defend the body from an invader -- known as killer cells or T cells -- , compared with people who had a kidney transplant alone. While the T cells of the liver transplant recipients reacted to the donor organ cells weakly, their reaction to other antigens was preserved.

The research helps pave the way for ongoing studies on the transplanted livers' unique properties. The hope is that one day researchers will identify how the liver regulates the immune response and to mimic that to help patients receiving other types of transplants scale back their need for anti-rejection drugs.

Immunosuppression drugs are a necessary but difficult aspect of post-transplant care. Without it, the transplant would not be successful because the body would almost immediately reject the donor organ. But immunosuppression itself causes increased risk for infection, cancer and other issues. Future therapies may provide ways to target immune protection to the donated organ, and minimize the risks of immunosuppression for the patients.

Mayo Clinic's William J. Von Leibig Center for Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine is one of the largest integrated transplant centers in the world, with locations in Rochester, Minnesota; Phoenix; and Jacksonville, Florida.

April is Donate Life Month. More than 120,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Nearly 2,000 of those are children. Mayo Clinic has more than 3,000 patients on the waiting list for an organ transplant. Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national waiting list. An average of 21 people die each day in the United States waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.
-end-
About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. Learn more about Mayo Clinic. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Mayo Clinic

Related Kidney Transplant Articles from Brightsurf:

The effects of social determinants of health on kidney transplant candidates
Social determinants of health are associated with patient-reported outcomes in adults who are eligible to undergo kidney transplantation evaluations.

Tailored education system to benefit kidney transplant patients
Researchers find their computer-tailored education system, 'Your Path to Transplant' increases knowledge and readiness to pursue kidney transplant.

Kidney transplant, the cost of accounting for patients' preferences
Taking into account patients' preferences can help speed up the organ allocation process and improve the life quality of the recipients, as shown by a joint study conducted by Ca' Foscari University and the University of Padua

New hope for kidney revival for transplant
Cell therapy delivered directly to the kidney can revive a 'marginal' organ, improving function and could offer new hope for providing more kidneys for transplant.

Are kidney transplant patients at higher risk? The European experience
The risk of death is relatively high in kidney transplant patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

The economic burden of kidney transplant failure in the United States
A recent analysis published in the American Journal of Transplantation estimates that for the average US patient who has undergone kidney transplantation, failure of the transplanted organ (graft failure) will impose additional medical costs of $78,079 and a loss of 1.66 quality-adjusted life years.

Mixed chimerism improves long-term kidney transplant outlook
Mixed chimerism - the continued mixing of donor and recipient blood cells following a transplant of blood progenitor cells - could improve outcomes for kidney transplant recipients, according to a new clinical study in about 50 patients.

Kidney paired donation is an excellent option for transplant candidates
An analysis compared transplant recipients who received kidneys through national kidney paired donation and those who received kidneys from other living donors (such as relatives, friends or other paired exchange mechanisms).

Mediterranean diet may help preserve the kidney health of transplant recipients
In a study of kidney transplant recipients, those with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to experience kidney function loss.

New blood test can detect rejection by antibodies after kidney transplant
A group of European scientists led by KU Leuven has found a biomarker that can identify patients with symptoms of kidney rejection symptoms after a transplant as a result of antibodies.

Read More: Kidney Transplant News and Kidney Transplant Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.