Remote monitoring using donor-derived, cell-free DNA after kidney transplantation during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Steven R. Potter M.D.
Potter, S.R., Hinojosa, R., Miles, C.D., O’Brien, D. and Ross, D.J. (2020). “Remote monitoring using donor-derived, cell-free DNA after kidney transplantation during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.” Kidney Res Clin Pract 39(4): 495-500.
BACKGROUND: Donor-derived, cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) level correlates with allograft injury with clinical validity and utility for quiescence and active acute rejection (AR) in kidney transplant recipients. We analyzed trends in dd-cfDNA level immediately preceding and during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with implemented “shelter in place” and a tele-health strategy with remote home phlebotomy to limit COVID-19 exposure. METHODS: During COVID-19 in the United States (US), we surveyed weekly (January 6, 2020-May 25, 2020) metrics for dd-cfDNA corresponding to both a low risk for active rejection (dd-cfDNA < 0.5%) and cohorts with indeterminate levels of 0.5% to 1.0% and > 1.0%. During the study timeframe, over 11,000 patient samples (67%) from 150 kidney transplantation centers were transitioned from standard facility-based to remote phlebotomy. RESULTS: The proportion of dd-cfDNA samples, analyzed in 21 weekly aggregated cohorts by risk-stratification category, was unchanged during the COVID-19 escalation in the US. Linearized slopes for numbers of samples corresponding to indeterminate risk for AR cohorts of > 1.0% and 0.5% to 1.0% were -0.31 and -0.12, respectively; indicating that prevalence of these “at risk for AR cohorts” decreased during remote surveillance. Approximately 73% of samples corresponded to low risk of AR (dd-cfDNA < 0.5%), while an additional 15% of samples had dd-cfDNA level ≤ 1.0%. CONCLUSION: The combination of remote home phlebotomy including dd-cfDNA analysis and a tele-health program offer a new paradigm that may substantially improve patient compliance and assuage anxiety regarding the state of kidney allograft health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further prospective multi-center studies with robust outcomes data are warranted.