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The diagnosis of acute T cell-mediated rejection (aTCMR) after kidney transplantation has considerable relevance for research purposes. Its definition is primarily based on tubulointerstitial inflammation and has changed little over time; aTCMR is therefore a suitable parameter for longitudinal data comparisons. In addition, because aTCMR is managed with antirejection therapies that carry additional risks, anxieties, and costs, it is a clinically meaningful endpoint for studies. This paper reviews the history and classifications of TCMR and characterizes its potential role in clinical trials: a role that largely depends on the nature of the biopsy taken (indication vs protocol), the level of inflammation observed (e.g., borderline changes vs full TCMR), concomitant chronic lesions (chronic active TCMR), and the therapeutic intervention planned. There is ongoing variability—and ambiguity—in clinical monitoring and management of TCMR. More research, to investigate the clinical relevance of borderline changes (especially in protocol biopsies) and effective therapeutic strategies that improve graft survival rates with minimal patient morbidity, is urgently required. The present paper was developed from documentation produced by the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT) as part of a Broad Scientific Advice request that ESOT submitted to the European Medicines Agency for discussion in 2020. This paper proposes to move toward refined definitions of aTCMR and borderline changes to be included as primary endpoints in clinical trials of kidney transplantation.

Original publication




Journal article


Transplant International


Frontiers Media SA

Publication Date