Beta 2-microglobulin. A reliable parameter for differentiating between graft rejection and severe infection after cardiac transplantation.
We investigated the role of beta 2-microglobulin as a noninvasive parameter to monitor acute rejection and severe infection in 45 consecutive heart transplant recipients. Endomyocardial biopsy revealed moderate (41 patients) or severe (three patients) rejection in 44 patients. Severe infections of bacterial septicemia (11 patients), bronchopneumonia (two patients), and viral infection (seven patients) were detected by a meticulous schedule of various clinical and laboratory tests. beta 2-Microglobulin levels in serum, generally corrected for serum creatinine, were significantly elevated in patients with infections (median, 6.3 mg/l; range Q10-Q90, 3.47-10.27 mg/l) compared with levels in patients with rejection (p less than 0.0001) or in patients in obviously good condition (p less than 0.0001). At the onset of acute rejection, the median corrected beta 2-microglobulin serum level was 1.56 mg/l (range Q10-Q90, -0.05-3.46 mg/l) and was significantly different from the control group (p less than 0.01). In addition, density function and empirical quantile analyses allowed us to define ranges of beta 2-microglobulin levels that would differentiate between rejection (2.05-3.46 mg/l) and infection (greater than 3.46 mg/l). With these values, sensitivity and specificity were 0.9 and 0.938 for detection of infection and 0.23 and 0.925 for detection of rejection, respectively. By means of beta 2-microglobulin, two cases of infection were misinterpreted as rejection (10%), and four of 44 rejections were mistaken for infections (9%). We conclude that measurements of beta 2-microglobulin may improve the management of heart transplant patients.
- Copyright © 1989 by American Heart Association