Central to the humoral theory of transplantation is production of antibodies by the recipient against mismatched HLA antigens in the donor organ. Not all mismatches result in antibody production, however, and not all antibodies are pathogenic. Serologic HLA matching has been the standard for solid organ allocation algorithms in current use. Antibodies do not recognize whole HLA molecules but rather polymorphic residues on the surface, called epitopes, which may be shared by multiple serologic HLA antigens. Data are accumulating that epitope analysis may be a better way to determine organ compatibility as well as the potential immunogenicity of given HLA mismatches. Determination of the pathogenicity of alloantibodies is evolving. Potential features include antibody strength (as assessed by antibody titer or, more commonly and inappropriately, mean fluorescence intensity) and ability to fix complement (in vitro by C1q or C3d assay or by IgG subclass analysis). Technical issues with the use of solid phase assays are also of prime importance, such as denaturation of HLA antigens and manufacturing and laboratory variability. Questions and controversies remain, and here we review new relevant data.
Recommended CitationFilippone, Edward J and Farber, John, "The Humoral Theory of Transplantation: Epitope Analysis and the Pathogenicity of HLA Antibodies." (2016). Department of Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 180.
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