Chimerism analysis for clinicians: a review of the literature and worldwide practices

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2022 Mar;57(3):347-359. doi: 10.1038/s41409-022-01579-9. Epub 2022 Jan 26.


This review highlights literature pertinent to chimerism analysis in the context of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). We also conducted a survey of testing practices of program members of CIBMTR worldwide. Questions included testing methods, time points, specimen type, cell lineage tested and testing indications. Recent literature suggests that detection of low level mixed chimerism has a clinical utility in predicting relapse. There is also increasing recognition of HLA loss relapse to potentially guide rescue decisions in cases of relapse. These developments coincide with wider access to high sensitivity next generation sequencing (NGS) in clinical laboratories. Our survey revealed a heterogeneity in practices as well as in findings and conclusions of published studies. Although the most commonly used method is STR, studies support more sensitive methods such as NGS, especially for predicting relapse. There is no conclusive evidence to support testing chimerism in BM over PB, particularly when using a high sensitivity testing method. Periodic monitoring of chimerism especially in diagnoses with a high risk of relapse is advantageous. Lineage specific chimerism is more sensitive than whole blood in predicting impending relapse. Further studies that critically assess how to utilize chimerism testing results will inform evidence based clinical management decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chimerism*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Transplantation Chimera