The diagnosis of acute cellular rejection (ACR) requires liver biopsy with its attendant expense and risk. Our first aim was to prospectively determine in an exploratory analysis whether there is a serum proteome signature associated with histologically confirmed ACR. Our second aim was to use simpler and faster enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-based assays for proteins identified as differentially abundant in the proteomic analysis to identify patients with ACR in a separate validation cohort. We used sequential high-abundance protein depletion and isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to characterize the serum proteome in serum samples of patients with or without ACR. Seven of the 41 proteins identified as differentially abundant [serum amyloid A, complement component 4 (C4), fibrinogen, complement component 1q (C1q), complement component 3, heat shock protein 60 (HSP60), and HSP70] could be measured with ELISA-based assays in a validation cohort consisting of patients with ACR (n = 25) and patients without ACR (n = 21). The mean alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in patients with ACR and in patients without ACR were 198 ± 27 and 153 ± 34 U/L, respectively. Among the 7 proteins for which ELISA assays were available, C4 and C1q were both independent predictors of ACR. C4 had the greatest predictivity for differentiating patients with or without ACR. A C4 level ≤ 0.31 g/L had a sensitivity of 97%, a specificity of 62%, a positive predictive value of 74%, and a negative predictive value of 94%. A C4 level a;circ 0.31 g/L and an ALT level ≤yen; 70 IU/mL together had a sensitivity of 96%, a specificity of 81%, a positive predictive value of 86%, and a negative predictive value of 94%. In summary, in this exploratory analysis, serum C4 and ALT levels were highly predictive of ACR in liver transplant recipients. Confirmation in a prospective, larger, and diverse population is needed. Liver Transpl 17:723-732, 2011.
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