We recently demonstrated the feasibility of noninvasive detection of cardiac allograft rejection after administration of indium-111-labeled lymphocytes. To determine the sensitivity and specificity of the technique, as well as its value for delineating the severity of rejection, we studied 16 dogs with heterotopic thoracic cardiac allografts. Five animals were evaluated while exposed to immunosuppressive agents. Animals were scanned sequentially after administration of 100-400 μCi of indium-111-labeled autologous lymphocytes. Myocardial lymphocyte infiltration was expressed as the indium excess (IE), defined as the ratio of indium activity of the transplant or native heart compared with that in blood. Scintigraphic results were compared with characteristics of simultaneously obtained endomyocardial biopsies. Among 17 biopsy documented episodes of rejection, 16 were detected scintigraphically. Among 18 biopsies with no evidence of rejection, scintigraphy was uniformly negative. Thus, the sensitivity and specificity of scintigraphy were 94 and 100%, respectively. Biopsies graded as showing no rejection were associated with an IE of 0.3 ± 0.5 (±SD); those graded as mild, 2.8 ± 1.7; those as moderate, 10.7 ± 7.2; and those graded as indicative of severe rejection, 14.2 ± 4.5. Thus, scintigraphy with indium-111-labeled lymphocytes sensitively and specifically detects cardiac allograft rejection and delineates the intensity of the rejection process. It should be useful clinically for assessing potential allograft rejection noninvasively.
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