The effect of KIR ligand incompatibility on the outcome of unrelated donor transplantation: a report from the center for international blood and marrow transplant research, the European blood and marrow transplant registry, and the Dutch registry

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2006 Aug;12(8):876-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2006.05.007.


Matching for HLA class I alleles, including HLA-C, is an important criterion for outcome of unrelated donor transplantation. However, haplotype-mismatched transplantations for myeloid malignancies, mismatched for killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) ligands in the graft-versus-host (GVH) direction, is associated with lower rates of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), relapse, and mortality. This study investigated the effect of KIR ligand mismatching on the outcome of unrelated donor transplantation. The outcomes after 1571 unrelated donor transplantations for myeloid malignancies where donor-recipient pairs were HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DRB1 matched (n = 1004), GVH KIR ligand-mismatched (n = 137), host-versus-graft (HVG) KIR ligand-mismatched (n = 170), and HLA-B and/or -C-mismatched but KIR ligand-matched (n = 260) were compared using Cox regression models. Treatment-related mortality (TRM), treatment failure, and overall mortality were lowest after matched transplantations. Patients who received grafts from donors mismatched at the KIR ligand in the GVH or HVG direction and mismatched at HLA-B and/or C but matched at the KIR ligand had similar rates of TRM, treatment failure, and overall mortality. There were no differences in leukemia recurrence between the 4 groups. These results do not support the choice of an unrelated donor on the basis of KIR ligand mismatch determined from HLA typing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation* / methods
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation* / mortality
  • Child
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics
  • Graft vs Host Disease / mortality*
  • HLA Antigens* / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Receptors, Immunologic* / agonists
  • Receptors, Immunologic* / genetics
  • Receptors, KIR
  • Registries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • HLA Antigens
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, KIR