Beyond histology: novel tools to diagnose allograft dysfunction.
Kidney biopsy is the gold standard procedure for the assessment of allograft dysfunction. The differential diagnosis for both acute and chronic dysfunction can encompass a number of different causes, and a biopsy frequently can suggest a specific cause. However, many of these causes are difficult to distinguish on morphologic basis alone, and the information that is obtained from a biopsy is limited with regard to functional and prognostic importance. Additional methods therefore are needed to guide the diagnosis and the treatment of allograft dysfunction, and numerous methods have been studied. Potential markers include protein and gene expression profiles in the peripheral blood, the urine, and the graft itself, all compartments that are relevant to the alloimmune response. Recent comprehensive sequencing of the human genome has led to an unprecedented opportunity to develop these genetic and proteomic techniques, and ongoing evaluations of potential tests have led to an improved understanding of the complexity of immune responses. The future challenge for promising tests is validation in larger patient populations to facilitate their addition to the diagnostic armamentarium.
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