Immunogenetics of human minor histocompatibility antigens: their polymorphism and immunodominance

Immunogenetics. 1992;35(3):161-5. doi: 10.1007/BF00185109.


Minor Histocompatibility (mH) antigens are polymorphic endogenously synthesized products that can be recognized by alloreactive T cells in the context of major histocompatibility complex molecules. In transplant situations where tissue donor and recipient are matched for HLA, mH antigens may trigger strong cellular immune responses. To gain insight into the polymorphism of mH antigens we studied their frequencies in the healthy population. Five HLA class I restricted mH antigens recognized by distinct cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) clones were used in the population genetic analysis consisting of a panel (N = 100) of HLA typed target cells. Three mH antigens showed phenotype frequencies of 69% or higher, this contrasted the frequencies of two other mH antigens with 16 and 7% respectively. To gain insight into the "functional" polymorphism of the T-cell response to mH antigens, we analyzed the specificity of CTL clones within individuals. Three out of five individuals investigated shared a CTL response to one single HLA-A2 restricted mH antigen. These results indicate limited allelic polymorphism for some mH antigens in the healthy population and are suggestive of the existence of immunodominant human mH antigens.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Clone Cells
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / immunology
  • Humans
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology


  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens