Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is among the most challenging complications in unrelated donor hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). The highly polymorphic MHC class I chain-related gene A, MICA, encodes a stress-induced glycoprotein expressed primarily on epithelia. MICA interacts with the invariant activating receptor NKG2D, expressed by cytotoxic lymphocytes, and is located in the MHC, next to HLA-B. Hence, MICA has the requisite attributes of a bona fide transplantation antigen. Using high-resolution sequence-based genotyping of MICA, we retrospectively analyzed the clinical effect of MICA mismatches in a multicenter cohort of 922 unrelated donor HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DRB1, and HLA-DQB1 10/10 allele-matched HCT pairs. Among the 922 pairs, 113 (12.3%) were mismatched in MICA. MICA mismatches were significantly associated with an increased incidence of grade III-IV acute GVHD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.50-2.23; P < .001), chronic GVHD (HR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.45-1.55; P < .001), and nonelapse mortality (HR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.24-1.46; P < .001). The increased risk for GVHD was mirrored by a lower risk for relapse (HR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.43-0.59; P < .001), indicating a possible graft-versus-leukemia effect. In conclusion, when possible, selecting a MICA-matched donor significantly influences key clinical outcomes of HCT in which a marked reduction of GVHD is paramount. The tight linkage disequilibrium between MICA and HLA-B renders identifying a MICA-matched donor readily feasible in clinical practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology