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Tissue Antigens. 2014 Oct;84(4):374-60. doi: 10.1111/tan.12445.

Minor histocompatibility antigens: past, present, and future.

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Laboratory for Translational Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


Minor histocompatibility (H) antigens are key molecules driving allo-immune responses in both graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD) and in graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) reactivity in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT). Dissection of the dual function of minor H antigens became evident through their different modes of tissue and cell expression, i.e. hematopoietic system-restricted or broad. Broadly expressed minor H antigens can cause both GvHD and GvL effects, while hematopoietic system-restricted minor H antigens are more prone to induce GvL responses. This phenomenon renders the latter group of minor H antigens as curative tools for HSCT-based immunotherapy of hematological malignancies and disorders, in which minor H antigen-specific responses are enhanced in order to eradicate the malignant cells. This article describes the immunogenetics of minor H antigens and methods that have been developed to identify them. Moreover, it summarizes the clinical relevance of minor H antigens in transplantation, with special regards to allogeneic HSCT and solid-organ transplantation.


adoptive immunotherapy; allo-immunity; graft-versus-host disease; graft-versus-leukemia effect; hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation; immunogenetics; minor H antigens; organ transplantation

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