Effect of HLA mismatch on acute graft-versus-host disease

Int J Hematol. 2013 Sep;98(3):300-8. doi: 10.1007/s12185-013-1405-x. Epub 2013 Jul 28.


HLA matching between donors and recipients is the most important factor associated with acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. With improvements in GVHD prophylaxis and supportive care, transplantations from HLA mismatched donors are performed increasingly frequently, drawing greater attention to the effects of HLA mismatch. In related transplantation, HLA 1-antigen mismatch at the HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DR loci is considered acceptable, but the incidence of severe acute GVHD under standard prophylaxis is higher than that for matched related and unrelated transplantation, highlighting the need for a modification of GVHD prophylaxis. Development of new GVHD prophylaxes has now made HLA 2-3-antigen mismatched related transplantation feasible, and has almost overcome the HLA barrier. In unrelated bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, donors matched for HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, and HLA-DRB1 alleles are the most preferable. The impact of allele or antigen mismatch has been evaluated in a number of studies, but the results of these have not been consistent, partly due to differences in race and HLA distribution. The effects of HLA mismatch may differ depending on the year of transplantation and the form of GVHD prophylaxis administered. In cord blood transplantation, successful transplantation can be achieved with up to two HLA mismatches. In children, compared to the use of HLA mismatched units, the use of HLA-matched units is associated with a lower risk of acute GVHD and mortality, while in adults HLA mismatches may have a lower impact on outcome. Thus, the effect of HLA matching should be evaluated separately for different stem cell sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Allografts
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Child
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / mortality
  • Graft vs Host Disease / prevention & control
  • HLA Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA Antigens / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Histocompatibility Testing*
  • Humans
  • Risk
  • Survival Rate


  • HLA Antigens