HLA histocompatibility affects cardiac transplant rejection and may provide one basis for organ allocation

Verdi J. DiSesa, Paul C. Kuo, Keith A. Horvath, Gilbert H. Mudge, John J. Collins, Lawrence H. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Prospective human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) typing is not performed for heart transplantation, and the relation between HLA matching and cardiac graft rejection is unclear. Recipient and donor HLA matching were analyzed retrospectively in 51 patients undergoing orthotopic cardiac transplantation. Immunosuppression was based on cyclosporine and prednisone. During the mean follow-up of 34 months (range, 16 to 63 months), the 46 operative survivors had an average of 3.95 rejection episodes (range, zero to 11 episodes). Twenty-one patients had steroid-resistant rejection requiring treatment with polyclonal or monoclonal antithymocyte globulin. Human lymphocyte antigen typing was available for 44 patients, and antigens were grouped in broad specificities. Patients with two or more HLA-A or HLA-B matches had a reduced number of rejection episodes ( 3 10 versus 19 34) and a lower incidence of steroid-resistant rejection ( 1 10 versus 18 34; p = 0.01). Inclusion of HLA-DR matches did not alter the findings. There was a strong correlation between the increased frequency of rejection and the incidence of steroid-resistant rejection (p < 0.0001). Four of six late deaths occurred in patients with steroid-resistant rejection; four were due to acute rejection and two to graft atherosclerosis. Although not currently done, prospective HLA matching is feasible with present typing methods. Our results suggest a rationale for prospective histocompatibility testing in cardiac transplantation with allocation of donor hearts to patients with two or more HLA matches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-224
Number of pages5
JournalThe Annals of thoracic surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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