Transplantation genetics: current status and prospects

Am J Transplant. 2014 Apr;14(4):764-78. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12653. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Over the last decade, advances in genetic technologies have accelerated our understanding of the genetic diversity across individuals and populations. Case-control and population-based studies have led to several thousand genetic associations across a range of phenotypes and traits being unveiled. Despite widespread and successful use of organ transplantation as a curative therapy for organ failure, genetic research has yet to make a major impact on transplantation practice aside from HLA matching. New studies indicate that non-HLA loci, termed minor histocompatibility antigens (mHAs), may play an important role in graft rejection. With several million common and rare polymorphisms observed between any two unrelated individuals, a number of these polymorphisms represent mHAs, and may underpin transplantation rejection. Genetic variation is also recognized as contributing to clinical outcomes including response to immunosuppressants, introducing the possibility of genotype-guided prescribing in the very near future. This review summarizes existing knowledge of the impact of genetics on transplantation outcomes and therapeutic responses, and highlights the translational potential that new genomic knowledge may bring to this field.

Keywords: Allograft rejection; genomic variability; non-HLA-related rejection; pharmacogenomics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection / genetics*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens / genetics*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Prognosis


  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens