Targeting minor histocompatibility antigens in graft versus tumor or graft versus leukemia responses

Trends Immunol. 2008 Dec;29(12):624-32. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Oct 25.


Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (alloHCT) represents the only curative therapy for several hematologic malignancies, and shows promise as a nascent treatment modality for select solid tumors. Although the original goal of alloHCT was hematopoietic reconstitution after sub-lethal chemoradiotherapy, recognition of a profound donor lymphocyte-mediated graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) or graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effect has shifted the paradigm from pre-transplant cytoreduction to tumor control via donor lymphocytes. In human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-compatible alloHCT, GVL and GVT reactions are induced primarily by donor T-cell recognition of minor histocompatibility antigens (mHAgs). Here we review the literature regarding mHAg-specific T cells in GVL and GVT reactions, and discuss the prospects of exploiting mHAgs as immunotherapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Graft vs Leukemia Effect / immunology*
  • Graft vs Tumor Effect / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Epitopes
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens