In addition to T cells, NK cells can also participate in the outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) mainly through the interaction between donor killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and recipient human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules. There is a risk of GVHD other than leukemia relapse after allogeneic HSCT that activation of donor NK cells in the absence of appropriate inhibitory ligands will be one of the reasons. To investigate the impact of donor KIRs and recipient KIR/HLA class I combinations on GVHD and leukemia relapse in patients with acute leukemia after HSCT, 100 patients with acute leukemia who received HSCT from their HLA-matched siblings were included in this study. Genotypes of 16 KIR genes and two 2DS4 variants (full length and deleted alleles), along with HLA-A/B genotypes, were determined by PCR-SSP. HLA-C genotyping was done with the SSO-Luminex method. Chimerism analysis was done using 16 short tandem repeats (STRs) to detect early leukemia relapse. Acute (a)GVHD occurred in 38 patients, and 16 of them died during the study. None of the recipients showed any sign of leukemia relapse after HSCT. Full donor chimerism was observed in all tested patients during the first year after HSCT. Our results also indicated an increased risk of aGVHD in AA recipients with the C2/Cx, Bw4 (or A-Bw4) or HLA-A3/A11 genotypes who received HSCT from Bx donors. Our results showed that donor selection based on donor-recipient KIR genotypes and recipient HLA class I status can improve the outcome of HSCT.
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