To improve the clinical outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from an unrelated donor, the identification of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles responsible for immunologic events such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), engraftment failure, and graft-versus-leukemia effect is essential. Genomic typing of HLA-A, -B, -C, -DRB1, and -DQB1 was retrospectively performed in 1298 donor-patient pairs in cases where marrow was donated from serologically HLA-A, -B, and -DR compatible donors. Single disparities of the HLA-A, -B, -C, or -DRB1 allele were independent risk factors for acute GVHD, and the synergistic effect of the HLA-C allele mismatch with other HLA allele mismatches on acute GVHD was remarkable. HLA-A and/or HLA-B allele mismatch was found to be a significant factor for the occurrence of chronic GVHD. HLA class I (A, B, and/or C) allele mismatch caused a significantly higher incidence of engraftment failure than HLA match. Significant association of HLA-C allele mismatch with leukemia relapse was not observed. As the result of these events, HLA-A and/or HLA-B allele mismatch reduced overall survival remarkably in both standard-risk and high risk leukemia cases, whereas the HLA-C mismatch or HLA-class II (DRB1 and/or DQB1) mismatch did not. Furthermore, multiple mismatch of the HLA locus was found to reduce survival in leukemia cases. Thus, the role of the HLA class I allele in unrelated bone marrow transplantation was elucidated. Notably, HLA-C alleles had a different mode from HLA-A or -B alleles for acute GVHD and survival.
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