Reconstitution of NK cell receptor repertoire following HLA-matched hematopoietic cell transplantation BLOOD Shilling, H. G., McQueen, K. L., Cheng, N. W., Shizuru, J. A., Negrin, R. S., Parham, P. 2003; 101 (9): 3730-3740


Interactions between killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I ligands influence development of natural killer (NK) cell repertoire and response to infection, cancer, and allogeneic tissue. As KIRs and HLA class I molecules are highly polymorphic, clinical allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation is predicted to frequently involve KIR mismatch, and thus to provide a unique system for study of human NK cell receptor repertoire development. Eighteen leukemia patients undergoing HLA-matched transplantation and their donors were analyzed for KIR genotype. Ten of 13 HLA-identical donor-patient pairs were KIR mismatched and 3 were matched; all HLA-matched unrelated pairs were KIR mismatched. Reconstitution of recipient NK cell repertoire following transplantation was examined using flow cytometry and monoclonal antibodies specific for KIR and CD94:NKG2A. These data form 3 groups. Six to 9 months after transplantation, 8 patients (group 1) reconstituted an NK cell repertoire resembling that of their donor, and for KIR-mismatched transplants, distinct from the recipient before transplantation. In the first year after transplantation, 5 patients (group 2) exhibited a generally depressed frequency of KIR-expressing NK cells and concomitant high frequency of CD94:NKG2A expression. By 3 years after transplantation, the frequency of KIR-expressing NK cells had increased to donor values, in the 3 patients from group 2 analyzed for this period. The remaining 5 patients experienced severe clinical complications following transplantation and displayed unique features in their NK cell receptor reconstitution. These results demonstrate that a majority of HLA-matched hematopoietic cell transplantations involve KIR mismatch and reveal differences in NK cell repertoire having potential impact for immune responsiveness and transplantation outcome.

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