Acute rejection is hazardous to graft survival in kidney transplant recipients (KTRs). Researchers at Kyungpook National University aimed to identify novel biomarkers for early diagnosis of acute T cell-mediated rejection (TCMR) in urinary exosomes of KTRs.
Among 458 graft biopsies enrolled in a cross-sectional multicenter study, 22 patients with stable graft function (STA) who had not shown pathologic abnormality and 25 patients who diagnosed biopsy-proven TCMR were analyzed. The researchers performed proteomic analysis using nano-ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (nano-UPLC-MS/MS) to identify candidate biomarkers for early TCMR diagnosis on urinary exosomes. They confirmed the protein levels of each candidate biomarker by western blot analysis.
A total of 169 urinary exosome proteins were identified by nano-UPLC-MS/MS. Forty-six proteins showed increased expression in STA patients, while 17 proteins were increased in TCMR patients. Among them, the researchers selected five proteins as candidate biomarkers for early diagnosis of TCMR according to significance, degree of quantity variance, and information from the ExoCarta database. They confirmed the proteomic expression levels of five candidate biomarkers by western blot analysis in each patient. Of all candidate biomarkers, tetraspanin-1 and hemopexin were significantly higher in TCMR patients (STA:TCMR ratio = 1:1.8, P = 0.009, and 1:3.5, P = 0.046, respectively).
Protein-protein interaction networks of tetraspanin-1 (a) and hemopexin (b)
Functional protein-protein interactions were constructed using the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins (STRING) database. Line thickness indicates the strength of data support for protein-protein interaction. Colored nodes indicate the query proteins and first shell of interactors; White nodes indicate the second shell of interactors.