Chronic liver allograft rejection: A national institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases interinstitutional study analyzing the reliability of current criteria and proposal of an expanded definition

Anthony J. Demetris, Eric C. Seaberg, Kenneth P. Batts, Linda Ferrell, Randall G. Lee, Rodney Smith Markin, Katherine M. Detre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


A study was conducted to assess the inter and intrarater agreement for the histopathologic features and diagnosis of chronic rejection (CR) and several other important causes of late liver allograft dysfunction. On two occasions, five pathologists, experienced with liver transplantation, reviewed a set of 49 slides representing a range of diagnoses, without knowledge of the clinical history or liver injury test results. The readings were correlated with the original histopathologic diagnosis, liver injury tests, and clinicopathologic follow-up. Assessment of biopsy adequacy (κ = 0.69) and portal tract counts (κ = 0.79) showed good to excellent intrarater agreement, whereas interrater agreement for these variables was moderate to good, respectively (κ = 0.44 and 0.65). Likewise, the intrarater agreement for the diagnosis of CR (κ = 0.68), hepatitis (κ = 0.77), and obstractive cholangiopathy (κ = 0.55) showed good to excellent agreement, whereas the interrater agreement for these same diagnoses ranged from fair to good (κ = 0.58, 0.46, and 0.25, respectively). In 18 specimens, there was a near unanimous diagnosis of CR across both readings. These biopsies were obtained at a median of 7.1 months (range, 42 days to 4.9 years) after transplantation, and the average number of portal tracts was 8.4 (range, 4- 15). Interestingly, only 13 of these 18 specimens showed bile duct loss in >50% of the portal triads; the remaining cases showed atrophy/pyknosis of the biliary epithelium in a majority of small bile ducts. Clinicopathologic correlation showed that these 18 biopsies were obtained from 16 grafts from 15 patients, 14 of whom ultimately required retransplantation or died of or with CR, whereas two of the grafts/patients recovered. A high rate of sensitivity (92%) and a somewhat lower, but acceptable, rate of specificity (71% to 80%) was found for the diagnosis of CR. Chronic rejection and other causes of late liver allograft dysfunction can he diagnosed reliably by a group of pathologists experienced with liver transplantation, and the diagnosis of CR correlates with clinical course and liver function abnormalities. Expanded criteria for the diagnosis of CR are presented, and potential problem areas for practicing pathologists are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 12 1998



  • Chronic liver allograft rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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