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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2010 Sep;16(9):1257-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2010.03.004. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Donor KIR Genes 2DL5A, 2DS1 and 3DS1 are associated with a reduced rate of leukemia relapse after HLA-identical sibling stem cell transplantation for acute myeloid leukemia but not other hematologic malignancies.

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Hematology Branch National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Stem cell transplantation (SCT) from a healthy donor can be curative for patients with hematologic malignancies resistant to other treatments. Elimination of malignant cells through a graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect involves donor T and natural killer (NK) cells, but their relative contribution to this process is poorly defined. NK cell alloreactivity and GVL effects are controlled by the nature of the interaction of NK activation receptors and killer-immunoglobulin-like-receptors (KIR) with major histocompatibility locus class I antigens on the target cell. We performed KIR-genotyping of HLA-identical sibling donors in 246 T cell-depleted SCTs to identify genetic factors affecting transplant outcome (treatment-related mortality [TRM], leukemic relapse, and survival). Univariate and multivariate analysis of transplant-related risk factors and KIR genotyping was performed to identify independent variables predictive of outcome for different forms of leukemia. Further to confirming known predictive factors for TRM and survival (CD34 cell dose, patient age, disease stage), statistical analysis revealed that 3 donor B haplotype KIR genes, 2DL5A, 2DS1, and 3DS1, were associated with significantly less relapse in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) (13% versus 57%) but not in patients with other myelogenous or lymphoid malignancies. AML patients receiving SCT from donors with these KIR genes relapsed 4 times less frequently than patients transplanted from donors with other KIR genotypes. These findings suggest specific, genetically determined, interactions between NK cells and AML cells that facilitate the GVL effect, and have implications for donor selection for AML patients.

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