Systemic Complement Activation in Donation After Brain Death Versus Donation After Circulatory Death Organ Donors.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Complement activation in organs from deceased donors is associated with allograft injury and acute rejection. Because use of organs from donors after circulatory death is increasing, we characterized relative levels of complement activation in organs from donors after brain death and after circulatory death and examined associations between donor complement factor levels and outcomes after kidney and liver transplant.

Materials and methods

Serum samples from 65 donors (55 donations after brain death, 10 donations after circulatory death) were analyzed for classical, lectin, alternative, and terminal pathway components by Luminex multiplex assays. Complement factor levels were compared between groups, and associations with posttransplant outcomes were explored.


Serum levels of the downstream complement activation product C5a were similar in organs from donors after circulatory death versus donors after brain death. In organs from donors after circulatory death, complement activation occurred primarily via the alternative pathway; the classical, lectin, and alternative pathways all contributed in organs from donors after brain death. Donor complement levels were not associated with outcomes after kidney transplant. Lower donor complement levels were associated with need for transfusion, reintervention, hospital readmission, and acute rejection after liver transplant.


Complement activation occurs at similar levels in organs donated from donors after circulatory death versus those after brain death. Lower donor complement levels may contribute to adverse outcomes after liver transplant. Further study is warranted to better understand how donor complement activation contributes to posttransplant outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Halpern, SE; Rush, CK; Edwards, RW; Brennan, TV; Barbas, AS; Pollara, J

Published Date

  • July 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 635 - 644

PubMed ID

  • 33877036

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2146-8427

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1304-0855

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.6002/ect.2020.0425


  • eng