Kidney retransplantation after anti–programmed cell death-1 (PD-1)–related allograft rejection

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4 Scopus citations


In this report, we describe the first kidney retransplantation performed after anti–programmed cell death-1 (PD-1)–related allograft rejection. In 2014, we administered pembrolizumab (anti–PD-1) for ~9 months to a 57-year-old kidney transplant recipient with metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC). The patient experienced both a complete antitumor response and T cell–mediated allograft rejection requiring reinitiation of hemodialysis. Four-and-a-half years after initiating pembrolizumab, the patient remained without evidence of CSCC relapse and received a kidney transplant from a living-unrelated donor. Ten-and-a-half months after kidney retransplantation, the allograft is functioning well and the patient's CSCC remains in remission. This case illustrates the potential for PD-1 blockade to bring about durable immune-mediated tumor control in chronically immunosuppressed patients, and begins to address the feasibility of kidney retransplantation in patients who have previously received immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for cancer. Results from this and future cases may help elucidate mechanisms of antitumor immunity and allograft tolerance, and inform updates to transplant decision models. Our report also underscores the need for clinical trials testing novel immunotherapy combinations in solid organ transplant recipients designed to uncouple antitumor and anti-allograft immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2264-2268
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • cancer/malignancy/neoplasia: skin—nonmelanoma
  • clinical research/practice
  • hematology/oncology
  • immunosuppression/immune modulation
  • recipient selection
  • retransplantation
  • translational research/science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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