Introduction: Incidental IgA deposits in donor kidneys have unknown sequelae and may predate clinical kidney disease if primed by adverse immunologic or hemodynamic stimuli or may remain dormant.
Methods: The presence of incidental IgA in post-implantation (T0) biopsies from living (LDK) and deceased donor (DDK) kidneys, and its relationship to post-transplant patient and graft outcomes was investigated in an ethnically diverse US population at a large transplant center.
Results: Mesangial IgA was present in 20.4% of 802 T0 biopsies; 13.2% and 24.5% of LDK and DDK, respectively. Donors with incidental IgA deposits were more likely to have hypertension and be of Hispanic or Asian origin. Intensity of IgA staining was 1+ (57.3%), 2+ (26.8%), or 3+ (15.8%) of the T0 IgA+ biopsies. Mesangial pathology correlated with higher-intensity IgA staining with less clearance on follow-up (53.8%) versus 79.2% without mesangial pathology. IgA cleared in 91%, 63%, and 40% of follow-up biopsies with 1+, 2+, and 3+ IgA staining, respectively. Early post-transplant rejection and rejection-related graft loss occurred more frequently in IgA+ kidney recipients; however, 5-year kidney function and graft survival were comparable to kidneys without IgA.
Conclusion: This first and largest report of incidental IgA in T0 biopsies of LDK and DDK in a US ethnically diverse population demonstrated no adverse association between the presence of IgA in donor kidneys and graft or patient survival. Whether IgA in donor kidneys represents latent IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is uncertain; nevertheless, living donors who demonstrate IgA on T0 biopsy deserve careful follow-up.