The hypothesis was tested that amino acid substitutions in specific positions within human leukocyte antigen class I heavy chain would have different impacts on transplant-related mortality (TRM) in patients receiving transplanted bone marrow from unrelated donors. One hundred patients and their unrelated donors were typed by sequence-based typing for the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A, -B, and -C loci. All pairs were matched for DRB1, DRB3, DRB4, DRB5, DQA1, and DQB1 loci. Forty pairs were also matched at class I, and 60 pairs had one or more mismatches at class I loci. It was found that substitutions at positions 116 and 114 of class I heavy chain significantly increased the risk for TRM in univariate and bivariate Cox analyses. Conversely, no association between number of multiple mismatches or number of amino acid substitutions and TRM was seen when positions 116 and 114 were adjusted for. Variables predictive of TRM in multivariate Cox analysis were number of cells infused, diagnosis (chronic myeloid leukemia [CML] or non-CML), and amino acid substitution at position 116 or 152. The only variable predictive of severe acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in multivariate Cox analysis was substitution at position 116. Actuarial risk for acute GVHD grade III-IV, TRM, and relapse in pairs with substitutions at position 116 (n = 37) compared to other pairs (n = 63) was, respectively, 36% versus 14% (P = .01), 59% versus 28% (P = .001), and 25% versus 31% (P = .4). In conclusion these data suggest that substitutions at position 116 of class I heavy chain increase the risk for acute GVHD and TRM in patients who receive transplanted bone marrow from unrelated donors.
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