Background: BO-incompatible living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) requires a reduction of the anti-ABO antibody titer to <16 before transplantation, which is usually achieved by pre-operative plasma exchange (PE) or double-filtration plasmapheresis. ABO-incompatible transplantations have been performed after a splenectomy with heavy drug immunosupression plus B-cell-specific drugs. Here, we evaluated a pre-transplantation infusion protocol with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (rituximab) for ABO-incompatible LDLT. Methods: Between March 2002 and December 2005, 73 adult patients underwent LDLT without retransplantation in our institution. Among these cases, 57 were ABO-identical, 11 were ABO-compatible and five were ABO-incompatible. The rituximab infusion protocol consisted of a weekly infusion of rituximab (375 mg/m2) for three wk, which was administered to three of the five ABO-incompatible LDLT patients. All three patients underwent a pre-operative PE, as well as a splenectomy during the operation. A triple immunosuppression protocol of tacrolimus, low-dose steroids and mycophenolate mofetil (1500 mg/d) was administered post-operatively. In addition, the patients received a continuous intra-arterial infusion of prostaglandin E1 and methylprednisolone, and a continuous intra-portal infusion of a protease inhibitor for three and two wk after transplantation, respectively. Results: After the first rituximab infusion, the peripheral blood CD19+ B cell count rapidly decreased to <1%. All three patients treated with rituximab subsequently received an ABO-incompatible LDLT, with donor/recipient blood groups of B/O, A1/B and A1/O. In two cases, the ABO-antibody level transiently increased post-operatively, then decreased and remained low. Rituximab infusion therapy did not develop any direct side effect except for mild allergic reaction to the first infusion, but post-operatively all three patients suffered a cytomegalovirus and were successfully treated with ganciclovir, and one patient had a MRSA-positive intra-abdominal abscess. Two patients are currently alive at 20 and 18months respectively, and show normal graft-liver function. But one patient died of sepsis because of intra-abdominal abscess. Conclusions: Although the protocol of rituximab administration is a conventional and safe regimen with no major side effects, the development of a new protocol is needed for prevention of the infection with bone suppression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes