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Proteins may predict lung transplant rejection

Using the latest in high tech tools, researchers have identified three proteins that were highly predictive of chronic lung rejection up to 20 months before the rejection occurred.

Lung transplant patients have the highest mortality rate of organ recipients, about 45% over five years, said lead investigator and pulmonologist Chris Wendt. Currently, there is no reliable way to predict which transplants will fail, and when signs of chronic rejection appear, it is usually too late to reverse it, she said. If doctors can predict which patients are beginning to reject the transplanted organ, they could try to head it off, she said.

The study, "Proteomic biomarkers of chronic lung allograft rejection," was carried out by Wendt, Tereza Cervenka, Madelaine Haddican, Yan Zhang and Gary Nelsestuen, of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. The researchers will present the study during a poster session at the upcoming conference, "Physiological Genomics and Proteomics of Lung Disease," in Fort Lauderdale, Nov. 2-5. The American Physiological Society is presenting the conference.

The researchers used the power of computers and new, sophisticated methods of analysis to find the proteins that form a "biosignature" or "biomarker" of organ rejection from among the thousands of proteins that exist in the lung.

Disease disturbs protein function

Lung transplants are a common therapy for many end-stage lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other diseases.

Patients who receive a new lung may suffer bouts of acute or chronic rejection. Acute rejection often responds to therapy. Chronic rejection, which results in scarring of the lung's airways following inflammation, is irreversible. In addition, often by the time doctors make the diagnosis, the disease is already fairly advanced, Wendt said.

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Source:American Physiological Society


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