Int J Mol Sci 23 (19) - [2022-10-08; online 2022-10-08]
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is frequent after liver transplantation (LT) and correlates with later development of chronic kidney disease. Its etiology is multifactorial and combines pre-, intra-, and postoperative factors. Additionally, the liver graft itself seems an important element in the development of AKI, yet the detailed mechanisms remain unclear. We hypothesized that grafts of LT recipients developing significant early AKI may show distinct proteomic alterations, and we set out to identify proteome differences between LT recipients developing moderate or severe AKI (n = 7) and LT recipients without early renal injury (n = 7). Liver biopsies obtained one hour after reperfusion were assessed histologically and using quantitative proteomics. Several cytokines and serum amyloid A2 (SAA2) were analyzed in serum samples obtained preoperatively, 2−4 h, and 20−24 h after graft reperfusion, respectively. LT induced mild histological alterations without significant differences between groups but uniformly altered liver function tests peaking on postoperative day 1, with a trend towards more severe alterations in patients developing AKI. Global quantitative proteomic analysis revealed 136 proteins differing significantly in their expression levels (p < 0.05, FC 20%): 80 proteins had higher and 56 had lower levels in the AKI group. Most of these proteins were related to immune and inflammatory responses, host defense, and neutrophil degranulation. No differences between the studied pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines or SAA2 between groups were found at any moment. Our results suggest that grafts of LT patients who develop early AKI reveal a distinct proteome dominated by an early yet prominent activation of the innate immunity. These findings support the hypothesis that AKI after LT may be favored by certain graft characteristics.