Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) risk-alleles in donor kidneys associate with graft loss but whether recipient risk-allele expression impacts transplant outcomes is unclear. To test whether recipient APOL1 risk-alleles independently correlate with transplant outcomes, we analyzed genome-wide SNP genotyping data of donors and recipients from two kidney transplant cohorts, Genomics of Chronic Allograft Rejection (GOCAR) and Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation (CTOT1/17). We estimated genetic ancestry (quantified as proportion of African ancestry or pAFR) by ADMIXTURE and correlated APOL1 genotypes and pAFR with outcomes. In the GOCAR discovery set, we observed that the number of recipient APOL1 G1/G2 alleles (R-nAPOL1) associated with increased risk of death-censored allograft loss (DCAL), independent of ancestry (HR = 2.14; P = 0.006), and within the subgroup of African American and Hispanic (AA/H) recipients (HR = 2.36; P = 0.003). R-nAPOL1 also associated with increased risk of any T cell-mediated rejection (TCMR) event. These associations were validated in CTOT1/17. Ex vivo studies of peripheral blood mononuclear cells revealed unanticipated high APOL1 expression in activated CD4+/CD8+ T cells and natural killer cells. We detected enriched immune response gene pathways in risk-allele carriers vs. non-carriers on the kidney transplant waitlist and among healthy controls. Our findings demonstrate an immunomodulatory role for recipient APOL1 risk-alleles associating with TCMR and DCAL. This finding has broader implications for immune mediated injury to native kidneys.
Zhongyang Zhang, Zeguo Sun, Jia Fu, Qisheng Lin, Khadija Banu, Kinsuk Chauhan, Marina Planoutene, Chengguo Wei, Fadi Salem, Zhengzi Yi, Ruijie Liu, Paolo Cravedi, Haoxiang Cheng, Ke Hao, Philip J. O’Connell, Shuta Ishibe, Weijia Zhang, Steven G. Coca, Ian W. Gibson, Robert B. Colvin, John C. He, Peter S. Heeger, Barbara T. Murphy, Madhav C. Menon