BACKGROUNDCurrent diagnostic methods of renal allograft rejection are neither sensitive nor specific. Needle biopsies are invasive and associated with patient morbidity. Thus, it is desirable to develop noninvasive tests to predict and diagnose rejection.METHODSUsing a case-control approach, surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry was used to identify plasma proteins associated with renal allograft rejection. From each rejection patient (n=16), two plasma samples (one near the biopsy date and the other at a time postbiopsy) were compared. Biopsy-confirmed nonrejection patients (n=48) were further analyzed as controls. Antibody-based quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to validate candidate biomarker apolipoprotein A1 (Apo A1) in a subset of the original and a second cohort of biopsy-confirmed rejection (n=40) and nonrejection (n=70) patients.RESULTSTwenty-two proteins/peptides showed significant differences between rejection and postrejection samples. Peptides 5191 Da and 4467 Da detected rejection with 100% sensitivity and 94% specificity. The 4467 Da peptide was identified as the C-terminal fragment of α-1 antichymotrypsin and a 28 kDa protein was determined as Apo A1. Both protein levels were significantly lower at rejection compared with postrejection. Protein levels of nonrejection patients were similar to the postrejection samples. Apo A1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results showed significantly lower Apo A1 levels (P=0.001 for the original and P=4.14E-11 for the second cohort) at the time of rejection compared with nonrejection which coincides with the SELDI findings.CONCLUSIONSTogether α-1 antichymotrypsin, Apo A1, and the unidentified 5191 Da peptide provide a plasma molecular profile, and this is associated with acute cellular renal allograft rejection.