Multicenter analyses demonstrate significant clinical effects of minor histocompatibility antigens on GvHD and GvL after HLA-matched related and unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2013 Aug;19(8):1244-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


The effect of minor H antigen mismatching on the occurrence of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) after HLA-matched hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has mainly been demonstrated in single-center studies. Yet, the International Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Workshops (IHIW) provide a collaborative platform to execute crucial large studies. In collaboration with 20 laboratories of the IHIW, the roles of 10 autosomal and 10 Y chromosome-encoded minor H antigens were investigated on GvHD and relapse incidence in 639 HLA-identical related donor (IRD) and 210 HLA-matched unrelated donor (MUD) HSCT recipients. Donor and recipient DNA samples were genotyped for the minor H antigens HA-1, HA-2, HA-3, HA-8, HB-1, ACC-1, ACC-2, SP110, PANE1, UGT2B17, and HY. The correlations with the primary outcomes GvHD (acute or chronic GvHD), survival, and relapse were statistically analyzed. The results of these multicenter analyses show that none of the HLA class I-restricted HY antigens were found to be associated with any of the primary outcomes. Interestingly, of the HLA class II-restricted HY antigens analyzed, HLA-DQ5 positive recipients showed a significantly increased GvHD-free survival in female-to-male HSCT compared with male-to-female HSCT (P = .013). Yet, analysis of the overall gender effect, thus independent of the known HY antigens, between the gender groups demonstrated an increased GvHD incidence in the female-to-male transplantations (P < .005) and a decreased GvHD-free survival in the female-to-male transplantations (P < .001). Of all autosomally encoded minor H antigens, only mismatching for the broadly expressed minor H antigen HA-8 increased the GvHD incidence in IRD HSCT (Hazard ratio [HR] = 5.28, P < .005), but not in MUD HSCT. Most striking was the influence of hematopoietic restricted minor H antigens on GvL as mismatching for hematopoietic minor H antigens correlated with lower relapse rates (P = .078), higher relapse-free survival (P = .029), and higher overall survival (P = .032) in recipients with GvHD, but not in those without GvHD. In conclusion, the significant GvHD effect of the broadly expressed minor H antigen HA-8 favors matching for HA-8 in IRD, but not in MUD, patient/donor pairs. The GvHD-GvL association demonstrating a significant lower relapse in hematopoietic minor H antigen mismatched patient/donor pairs underlines their clinical applicability for adoptive immunotherapy, enhancing the GvL effect in a GvHD controllable manner.

Keywords: Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD); Graft-versus-leukemia (GvL); Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Human; Minor H antigens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Graft vs Leukemia Effect / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Histocompatibility / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology*
  • Unrelated Donors


  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens