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Blood. 2010 Oct 7;116(14):2411-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-05-283051. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Donor selection for natural killer cell receptor genes leads to superior survival after unrelated transplantation for acute myelogenous leukemia.

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  • 1Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genes form a diverse, immunogenetic system. Group A and B KIR haplotypes have distinctive centromeric (Cen) and telomeric (Tel) gene-content motifs. Aiming to develop a donor selection strategy to improve transplant outcome, we compared the contribution of these motifs to the clinical benefit conferred by B haplotype donors. We KIR genotyped donors from 1409 unrelated transplants for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML; n = 1086) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL; n = 323). Donor KIR genotype influenced transplantation outcome for AML but not ALL. Compared with A haplotype motifs, centromeric and telomeric B motifs both contributed to relapse protection and improved survival, but Cen-B homozygosity had the strongest independent effect. With Cen-B/B homozygous donors the cumulative incidence of relapse was 15.4% compared with 36.5% for Cen-A/A donors (relative risk of relapse 0.34; 95% confidence interval 0.2-0.57; P < .001). Overall, significantly reduced relapse was achieved with donors having 2 or more B gene-content motifs (relative risk 0.64; 95% confidence interval 0.48-0.86; P = .003) for both HLA-matched and mismatched transplants. KIR genotyping of several best HLA-matched potential unrelated donors should substantially increase the frequency of transplants by using grafts with favorable KIR gene content. Adopting this practice could result in superior disease-free survival for patients with AML.

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