Urinary tubular biomarkers as potential early predictors of renal allograft rejection

Yi Tian Ting, P. Toby Coates, Robert J. Walker, Alexander D. McLellan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Confirmation of kidney transplant rejection still requires a histological diagnosis on renal allograft biopsy. Research continues for new non-invasive means for early diagnosis and treatment of kidney allograft rejection. Examination of the urine in renal transplant recipients provides a logical and readily accessible non-invasive window on allograft function, reflecting the function of the kidney in its transplanted environment. Renal tubular epithelial cells (TEC) respond dynamically to the surrounding microenvironment and play an important role in allograft survival. Proteins released from TEC into the urine potentially serve as biomarkers for the early diagnosis of graft dysfunction and rejection. Activated proximal TEC express human leucocyte antigens and co-stimulatory molecules, transiently transforming into non-professional antigen-presenting cells that augment renal allograft rejection. Chemokines and chemoattractants expressed on proximal tubules may also facilitate the migration of alloreactive lymphocytes to local site of injury and stimulate cytokine release from infiltrating lymphocytes. Proximal TEC are also potential targets for circulating alloreactive antibodies and complement leading to cell damage. Changes in cell state during development, regeneration or immune response require a rapid modulation of both surface protein expression and secretion, altering the repertoire of proteins secreted or expressed at the TEC plasma membrane. Due to the proximity of TEC to the tubular lumen, these proteins are passed into the urine. In this regard, TEC possess a unique anatomic location within the transplanted organ and are therefore ideal indicators of graft function. Hence, measurement of the changes of TEC-derived molecules in the urine, in response to different challenges or modification, may predict graft outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • biological marker
  • graft rejection
  • kidney transplantation
  • kidney tubule
  • proximal
  • urine

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