Background. Serine proteinase inhibitor (PI)-9 with a reactive center PI (Glu)-P1′ is a natural antagonist of granzyme B and is expressed in high levels in cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). In view of the role of CTL in acute rejection, we explored the hypothesis that PI-9 would be hyperexpressed during acute rejection. Because PI-9 can protect CTL from its own fatal arsenal and potentially enhance the vitality of CTL, we examined whether PI-9 levels correlate with the severity of rejection as well as predict subsequent graft function. Methods. We obtained 95 urine specimens from 87 renal allograft recipients. RNA was isolated from the urinary cells and mRNA encoding PI-9, granzyme B, or perforin and a constitutively expressed 18S rRNA was measured with the use of real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay, and the level of expression was correlated with allograft status. Results. The levels of PI-9 (P=0.001), granzyme B (P<0.0001), and perforin mRNAs (P<0.0001), but not the levels of 18S rRNA (P=0.54), were higher in the urinary cells from the 29 patients with a biopsy-confirmed acute rejection than in the 58 recipients without acute rejection. PI-9 levels were significantly higher in patients with type II or higher acute rejection changes compared with those with less than type II changes (P=0.01). Furthermore, PI-9 levels predicted subsequent graft function (r=0.43, P=0.01). Conclusions. PI-9 mRNA levels in urinary cells are diagnostic of acute rejection, predict renal allograft histology grade, and predict functional outcome following an acute rejection episode.
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