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Transplantation. 2003 Jan 15;75(1):132-7.

Impact of human leukocyte antigen matching in liver transplantation.

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  • 1Chirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik, Charité, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) compatibilities are beneficial in the setting of kidney transplantation but have demonstrated inconclusive results after liver transplantation. On the basis of recent controversial reports, the authors analyzed the impact of HLA matching in their patients after liver transplantation under modern immunosuppressive drug regimens and new HLA typing techniques with respect to outcome and adverse immunologic events.


Data from 924 transplants with complete donor-recipient HLA typing were retrospectively analyzed. Immunosuppression was commenced as either cyclosporine A- or tacrolimus-based therapy in different protocols. The follow-up period ranged from 1 to 144.8 months (median, 66 months).


The actuarial graft survival was 88% after 1 year and 78.7% after 5 years and was similar in tacrolimus- and cyclosporine A-treated patients. However, cyclosporine A-treated patients underwent significantly more rejection episodes. The number of HLA compatibilities had no influence on graft survival, whereas the number of acute rejections was significantly less in transplants with more HLA compatibilities (P<0.05). Graft survival tended to be improved in patients with chronic hepatitis B and more HLA compatibilities (P=0.05). In contrast, graft survival in transplants for primary sclerosing cholangitis was significantly impaired in the presence of one or two HLA-DR compatibilities (P<0.05). In addition, in autoimmune hepatitis, survival tended to be lower in the presence of more HLA compatibilities (P=0.1). Overall graft survival or frequency of adverse immunologic events was not influenced by any specific donor-recipient HLA allele.


This study demonstrated fewer acute rejections in transplants with more HLA compatibilities. However, in liver transplantation, a more specific investigation of HLA typing may be necessary, because in some indications HLA antigens play a role in the nature of the disease. Therefore, recurrence of autoimmune disease may be more severe in patients sharing HLA antigens.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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