Medical data and biological samples obtained from transplant patients are collected and managed across Germany with the help of the DZIF Transplant Cohort. The data and samples form the basis of scientific studies which investigate the connections between numerous factors influencing an organ’s susceptibility to infection and organ function. In March 2023, 2,359 patients were included in the database—with more than 33,557 blood samples and 10,480 other samples such as urine or stool.
The DZIF Transplant Cohort specially focuses on patients who have received a donor organ or a stem cell transplant.
Donor organ recipients are dependant on drugs throughout their life so as to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. These immunosuppressant drugs protect the organ but partially weaken the body’s immune response, thus leading to an increased susceptibility to infection. Pathogens therefore pose a particular threat to organ recipients. Stem cell recipients also initially have significantly impaired immune systems due to both their underlying illness and the treatment.
Infections therefore occur more rapidly than usual and can lead to complications. If an organ has been transplanted, infections can impair organ function and, in the worst case, lead to failure of the new organ.
A patient’s individual risk of developing complications depends on many different factors. The better the relationships between the type of transplant, pre-existing illnesses, medication and infections are understood, the more effectively can prevention, diagnosis and treatment be put into practice.
DZIF Transplant Cohort
The Transplant Cohort is a registered non-profit association. Its members include participating transplant hospitals and scientific establishments. Cohort data and samples are provided to research groups upon application. The Scientific Executive Board reviews submitted applications and is supported by external reviewers.
Other DZIF and external partners:
The Cohort Database forms an essential part of the Transplant Cohort and was developed by the Institute of Medical Statics and Epidemiology of Klinikum rechts der Isar in Munich. It is currently being managed by Bitcare GmbH.
This database is made up of a collection of information that provides insight into the individual risk of infection for transplant patients. This includes details of pre-existing illnesses, existing infections, the course of transplant, drugs used and any new infections.
Biomaterial obtained from transplant patients constitutes a further important basis for future studies. Biosamples obtained additionally in the course of routine treatment of the patients are used. Close cooperation exists in particular with the DZIF Biobanking unit within the new infrastructure Bioresources, Biodata and Digital Health, which ensures the creation and regular revision of standardised work instructions. This ensures comparability of quality, as all biosamples are obtained and processed in the same way at all centres. In addition, internal audits are regularly carried out by the Biobanking unit to ensure and check the high quality of the biosamples and the processes.
An ethics and data protection concept was devised and approved by all participating establishments and revised according to the new General Data Protection Regulation. Cohort participation is only possible with a patient’s informed written consent.
Participating university hospitals each have individual access to the database limited to the hospital’s own patients. Data for further processing are provided in pseudonymised form only.
The biosamples are also stored and processed in pseudonymised form. Besides documentation in the Cohort’s database, the biosamples are also included in the DZIF’s central biosample registry.
More information about the transplant cohort online:
- Article by Dr Daniela Schindler from 28.02.2022 on "transplant-campus.de" (German) (the website is no longer online; download as PDF)
- Interview with Dr Daniela Schindler, published in "Transplantationsmedizin aktuell", issue 3 | 2021 (German)
Information for the use of data and samples