Infectious pathogens may trigger specific allo-HLA reactivity via multiple mechanisms

Immunogenetics. 2017 Aug;69(8-9):631-641. doi: 10.1007/s00251-017-0989-3. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Transplant recipients can be sensitized against allo-HLA antigens by previous transplantation, blood transfusion, or pregnancy. While there is growing awareness that multiple components of the immune system can act as effectors of the alloresponse, the role of infectious pathogen exposure in triggering sensitization and allograft rejection has remained a matter of much debate. Here, we describe that exposure to pathogens may enhance the immune response to allogeneic HLA antigens via different pathways. The potential role of allo-HLA cross-reactivity of virus-specific memory T cells, activation of innate immunity leading to a more efficient induction of the adaptive alloimmune response by antigen-presenting cells, and bystander activation of existing memory B cell activation will be discussed in this review.

Keywords: Alloreactivity; B cells; HLA; Heterologous immunity; Infection; T cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • HLA Antigens / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • HLA Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell