Acute cellular rejection

What is Acute Cell Rejection?

Acute cellular rejection is the body's reaction to transplantation of cells or organs. It occurs when the donor cells or organs react against the recipient's immune system. During this process, the recipient's immune system produces antibodies or immune cells that attack the transplanted cells or organs. This reaction can damage the transplant, leading to tissue or organ rejection.

Acute cellular rejection is usually triggered when the body detects foreign proteins, or antigens, on the surface of a transplanted organ. The body's immune system produces antibodies which attach to the antigens, and the immune cells attack the transplant, attempting to destroy it.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of acute cellular rejection may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Pain or tenderness at the transplant site
  • Decreased function of the transplanted organ
  • Chills or body aches
  • Dark urine or tea-colored urine.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Acute cellular rejection is diagnosed by doing a biopsy of the transplanted organ and looking for evidence of inflammation. Blood tests may also be done to check for organ-specific antibodies. Treatment for acute cellular rejection usually involves immunosuppressant medications such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus, steroids, and IVIG.


The best way to prevent acute cellular rejection is to make sure that the donor organ matches the recipient as closely as possible. Some transplants may require special treatments to make sure the body does not reject the transplant, such as administration of donor leukocytes or lymphocytes.

The recipient will also need to take medications to prevent rejection, such as immunosuppressant drugs, for the life of the transplant.