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Transplantation. 2002 Oct 27;74(8):1175-80.

Role of HLA compatibility in pediatric living-related liver transplantation.

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Organ Transplant Unit, Department of Transplant Surgery, Kyoto University Hospital, 54 Kawara-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan. mureo@kuhp.



Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matching is, at present, not used for the allocation of cadaveric hepatic allografts because the liver is generally believed to be less susceptible to HLA-mediated rejection. However, the exact role of HLA compatibility in the long-term outcome of liver transplantation is not yet clearly defined. One of the advantages of living-related liver transplantation (LRLT) could be a better histocompatibility between donor and recipient. This study aimed at an assessment of the influence of HLA compatibility in a large series of LRLTs.


A total of 321 pediatric patients who underwent ABO-identical or ABO-compatible primary LRLT from the parental donors in the period between June 1990 and August 2000 were involved in the study. Graft survival, rejection episodes, and immunosuppression were evaluated from the viewpoint of HLA compatibility.


The overall 1- and 5-year graft survivals were 85.7% and 84.1%, respectively. The cumulative 5-year graft survivals in HLA 0-, 1-, 2- and 3-mismatch groups (A, B, and DR) were 100% (n=10), 78.9% (n=19), 86.2% (n=87), and 82.9% (n=205), respectively (P=0.525). The overall incidence of rejection during the follow-up period (median 66 months, range 16-139 months) was 46.1%. No significant difference was found in the incidence of rejection and rejection-free survival among the four groups. However, steroid-resistant rejection that necessitated OKT3 treatment (n=6) and chronic rejection (n=2) were recognized only in the 3-mismatch group. The whole-blood trough level of tacrolimus and the duration of steroid administration were not significantly different among the groups. The rate of the patients who succeeded in withdrawal from immunosuppression was also similar among the groups. However, the trough level of tacrolimus needed for maintenance of an acceptable liver function test during the chronic phase tended to be lower in well-matched pairs, and a high percentage of immunosuppressant-free patients were found in the 0-mismatch group. Fatal graft-versus-host disease developed in one patient with a complete one-way HLA-matched transplant.


We could not find any supportive evidence of beneficial effects of HLA-matching in pediatric LRLT. The potential benefit of HLA-matching for the reduction protocol for immunosuppressants may play a role in the withdrawal program. It appears unnecessary to pay attention to HLA compatibility in donor selection in LRLT, except for one-way HLA matching, or to adjust immunosuppression according to HLA compatibility.

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