Background. Tissue endothelial adhesion molecule expression is increased during acute liver allograft rejection. Soluble forms exist, but their correlation to rejection and their clinical value have not been determined. Methods. We studied endothelial adhesion molecule tissue expression and soluble levels in blood and bile and correlated these to the clinical course of 11 adult patients followed for 30 consecutive days after liver transplantation. Results. Three biopsies showing acute rejection demonstrated increased intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 but not endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 expression on hepatic endothelial cells during rejection. Vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 staining was focally increased in two of three specimens. Levels of soluble ICAM-1 or soluble VCAM-1 by ELISA did not distinguish acute rejection from nonrejection conditions. Conclusion. We confirmed that endothelial ICAM-1 expression is more intense in rejecting allografts and is more sensitive than changes in VCAM-1 or endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1. However, soluble adhesion molecule determination was not useful in the accurate detection of acute rejection.
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