We analyzed 112 patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (61 in complete remission [CR]; 51 in relapse), who received human leukocyte-antigen (HLA)-haploidentical transplants from natural killer (NK) alloreactive (n = 51) or non-NK alloreactive donors (n = 61). NK alloreactive donors possessed HLA class I, killercell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) ligand(s) which were missing in the recipients, KIR gene(s) for missing self recognition on recipient targets, and alloreactive NK clones against recipient targets. Transplantation from NK-alloreactive donors was associated with a significantly lower relapse rate in patients transplanted in CR (3% versus 47%) (P > .003), better event-free survival in patients transplanted in relapse (34% versus 6%, P = .04) and in remission (67% versus 18%, P = .02), and reduced risk of relapse or death (relative risk versus non-NK-alloreactive donor, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.29-0.78; P > .001). In all patients we tested the "missing ligand" model which pools KIR ligand mismatched transplants and KIR ligand-matched transplants from donors possessing KIR(s) for which neither donor nor recipient have HLA ligand(s). Only transplantation from NK-alloreactive donors is associated with a survival advantage.
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