Donor-derived cell-free DNA predicts allograft failure and mortality after lung transplantation

Sean Agbor-Enoh, Yan Wang, Ilker Tunc, Moon Kyoo Jang, Andrew Davis, Iwijn De Vlaminck, Helen Luikart, Pali D. Shah, Irina Timofte, Anne W. Brown, Argit Marishta, Kenneth Bhatti, Sasha Gorham, Ulgen Fideli, Jennifer Wylie, David Grimm, Natalie Goodwin, Yanqin Yang, Kapil Patel, Jun ZhuAldo Iacono, Jonathan B. Orens, Steven D. Nathan, Charles Marboe, Gerald J. Berry, Stephen R. Quake, Kiran Khush, Hannah A. Valantine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Background: Allograft failure is common in lung-transplant recipients and leads to poor outcomes including early death. No reliable clinical tools exist to identify patients at high risk for allograft failure. This study tested the use of donor-derived cell-free DNA (%ddcfDNA) as a sensitive marker of early graft injury to predict impending allograft failure. Methods: This multicenter, prospective cohort study enrolled 106 subjects who underwent lung transplantation and monitored them after transplantation for the development of allograft failure (defined as severe chronic lung allograft dysfunction [CLAD], retransplantation, and/or death from respiratory failure). Plasma samples were collected serially in the first three months following transplantation and assayed for %ddcfDNA by shotgun sequencing. We computed the average levels of ddcfDNA over three months for each patient (avddDNA) and determined its relationship to allograft failure using Cox-regression analysis. Findings: avddDNA was highly variable among subjects: median values were 3·6%, 1·6% and 0·7% for the upper, middle, and low tertiles, respectively (range 0·1%–9·9%). Compared to subjects in the low and middle tertiles, those with avddDNA in the upper tertile had a 6·6-fold higher risk of developing allograft failure (95% confidence interval 1·6–19·9, p = 0·007), lower peak FEV1 values, and more frequent %ddcfDNA elevations that were not clinically detectable. Interpretation: Lung transplant patients with early unresolving allograft injury measured via %ddcfDNA are at risk of subsequent allograft injury, which is often clinically silent, and progresses to allograft failure. Fund: National Institutes of Health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


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