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Most morbidity associated with malignancy in long-term renal transplant recipients is due to cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Previously identified measures to stratify SCC risk have limited use, however. We hypothesized that an increased proportion of senescent, terminally differentiated CD8(+) T cells would identify renal transplant recipients at elevated SCC risk. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were isolated from 117 stable transplant recipients at high risk of SCC and analyzed phenotypically by flow cytometry. Participants were followed up prospectively for SCC development. The predictive value of variables was assessed using Cox regression. Age at transplant and enrollment, dialysis duration, and previous disease were predictive of SCC development during follow-up. Previously published clinical phenotype-based risk scores lost predictive value with the removal of age as a covariate. The percentage of CD57-expressing CD8(+) T cells was the strongest immunologic predictor of future SCC and correlated with increasing CD8(+) T cell differentiation. We dichotomized participants into those with a majority (CD57hi) and a minority (CD57lo) of CD8(+) T cells expressing CD57; CD57hi participants were more likely to develop SCC during follow-up (hazard ratio, 2.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.0 to 8.0), independent of potential confounders, and tended to develop earlier recurrence. The CD57hi phenotype was stable with time and associated with increasing age and cytomegalovirus seropositivity. Our results show that the CD57hi phenotype is a strong predictor of SCC development and recurrence in this cohort of long-term, high-risk renal transplant recipients. This information may allow identification of recipients who may benefit from intensive dermatologic screening and immunosuppression reduction.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Soc Nephrol

Publication Date





1505 - 1515


cancer, cytomegalovirus, immunology, renal transplantation, risk factors, Aged, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Female, Humans, Immunosenescence, Kidney Transplantation, Male, Middle Aged, Postoperative Complications, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Risk Assessment, Skin Neoplasms