The impact of C4d testing on tissue adequacy in lung transplant surveillance

Sarah Hackman, Gabriela Gonzalez, Cynthia A. Forker, Daniel D. Mais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Surveillance transbronchial biopsies are routinely used to assess lung allograft rejection. While the criteria for diagnosing acute cellular rejection have been well-established, the morphological findings associated with antibody mediated rejection are variable. To increase the sensitivity for antibody mediated rejection, a portion of a biopsy can be used for C4d immunofluorescence testing, along with histologic findings and donor specific antibodies. When the number of alveolar pieces in a biopsy is small, the relative utility of sending one piece for C4d testing is unclear. Methods: Pathology reports of 1400 surveillance transbronchial lung biopsies from 2008 to 2017 were reviewed to obtain the number of pieces of alveolar parenchyma in each case. Based on a standard definition of adequacy as five pieces of well-expanded alveolar parenchyma, reports with five fragments were grouped as “adequate”, four pieces as a “marginal” sample, and three or less were considered an “inadequate” sample. Results: Of the 1400 biopsies, 653 specimens had 5 or more pieces of alveolar parenchyma.747 specimens were submitted with less than 5 pieces and 290 of those were considered marginal. In all marginal cases, a piece was withheld for C4d immunofluorescence testing. Conclusions: About 21% of specimens would have the recommended 5 pieces of alveolar parenchyma if not for the withholding of pieces for C4d IF testing. Over the span of 10 years, 290 such cases were recorded at our institution. Given this nontrivial impact, it is unclear if C4d immunofluorescence testing should be performed on surveillance transbronchial biopsies when the number of pieces in the specimen is marginal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number151564
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Antibody mediated rejection
  • C4d
  • Lung transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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