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Am J Transplant. 2015 May;15(5):1148-54. doi: 10.1111/ajt.13192. Epub 2015 Feb 23.

HLA epitopes as viewed by antibodies: what is it all about?

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Transplant Immunology Laboratory, Comprehensive Transplant Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.


The need for new approaches to define HLA antibodies, in the context of organ transplantation, is intensely debated among HLA professionals. In this review, we sought to provide background and perspective to current understanding of the immunogenicity of HLA mismatches with respect to the humoral alloimmune response and the definition of B cell epitopes. Initial data suggest that epitope matching not only assists in defining better matches for the current transplant, but also minimizes the risk of developing de novo HLA-donor-specific-antibodies posttransplant. In other words, other than lowering the risk of current graft rejection, epitope matching is likely to lower overall future sensitization levels and thus increases the likelihood of finding a compatible donor when the need for a retransplantation arises. More detailed knowledge of epitopes makes it possible to investigate what constitutes permissible versus non-permissible HLA mismatches. The currently available evidence suggest that epitope matching is the most rational way to decrease the risk of HLA-linked transplant rejection. This review is aimed at stimulating further and more intense collaborative effort in this field.


alloantibody; histocompatibility; immunobiology; immunogenetics; organ transplantation in general; translational research/science

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