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Nat Rev Immunol. 2003 Feb;3(2):108-22.

Alloreactive killer cells: hindrance and help for haematopoietic transplants.

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Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Haematopoietic-cell transplantation is a treatment for leukaemia and lymphoma. To reduce the incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) caused by transplanted T cells, donors and recipients are HLA matched. For patients for whom a matched donor is not available, one option is transplantation from an HLA-mismatched relative who shares one HLA haplotype. This procedure is distinguished by the use of a stronger conditioning regimen for the patient and of a T-cell-depleted graft containing numerous stem cells. After transplantation, natural killer cells are prevalent, and they can include alloreactive cells that kill tumour cells and prevent GVHD. The alloreactions seem to be determined by the mismatched HLA class I ligands and their killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors.

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