Indexed on: 13 Aug '15Published on: 13 Aug '15Published in: The New England journal of medicine
Transplantation of hematopoietic cells from unrelated donors can cure blood disorders but carries a significant risk of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The risk is higher when the recipient and donor are HLA-DPB1-mismatched, but the mechanisms leading to GVHD are unknown. The HLA-DPB1 regulatory region variant rs9277534 is associated with HLA-DPB1 expression. We tested the hypothesis that the GVHD risk correlates with the rs9277534 allele linked to the mismatched HLA-DPB1 in the recipient.We genotyped rs9277534 in 3505 persons to define rs9277534-DPB1 haplotypes. Among 1441 recipients of transplants from HLA-A,B,C,DRB1,DQB1-matched unrelated donors with only one HLA-DPB1 mismatch, linkage of the rs9277534 A and G alleles to the mismatched HLA-DPB1 was determined. HLA-DPB1 expression was assessed by means of a quantitative polymerase-chain-reaction assay. The risk of acute GVHD among recipients whose mismatched HLA-DPB1 allele was linked to rs9277534G (high expression) was compared with the risk among recipients whose mismatched HLA-DPB1 allele was linked to rs9277534A (low expression).The mean HLA-DPB1 expression was lower with rs9277534A than with rs9277534G. Among recipients of transplants from donors with rs9277534A-linked HLA-DPB1, the risk of acute GVHD was higher for recipients with rs9277534G-linked HLA-DPB1 mismatches than for recipients with rs9277534A-linked HLA-DPB1 mismatches (hazard ratio, 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25 to 1.89; P<0.001), as was the risk of death due to causes other than disease recurrence (hazard ratio, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.57; P=0.05).The risk of GVHD associated with HLA-DPB1 mismatching was influenced by the HLA-DPB1 rs9277534 expression marker. Among recipients of HLA-DPB1-mismatched transplants from donors with the low-expression allele, recipients with the high-expression allele had a high risk of GVHD. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).