Licensing by self MHC class I ligands is required for proper natural killer (NK) cell response. NK cells with inhibitory killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors for nonself MHC exhibit transient alloreactivity after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). We analyzed 3866 recipients in the Japan national registry who underwent their first allogeneic HSCT for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1 allele-genomatched unrelated donors. By classifying them into 5 independent groups based on HLA-C group matching and assumed donor NK cell status, we found that for HLA-C–matched HSCT for AML in HLA-C1/C1 recipients, in whom transient alloreactivity against HLA-C2–negative leukemic cells was expected, the relapse rate was significantly lower than it was in HLA-C–matched HSCT for AML in HLA-C1/C2 recipients (hazard ratio [HR],.72; P = .011). This difference was not observed in HLA-C–matched HSCT for ALL. Compared with HLA-C–matched HSCT, significantly higher mortality was observed in HLA-C1/C1 AML patients who received transplants from HLA-C–mismatched HLA-C1/C1 donors (HR, 1.37; P = .001) and in HLA-C1/C1 ALL patients who received transplants from HLA-C2–positive donors (HR, 2.13; P = .005). In conclusion, donor selection based on leukemic subtype and donor HLA-C group matching improves transplantation outcome after HLA-C–mismatched HSCT.
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