HLA Typing and matching

This Is Why HLA Typing Is Very Important For Organ & Tissue Transplants


Nikhil (name changed), a 10 year old boy was diagnosed with Beta Thalassemia Major – a severe form of blood disorder. As the days passed by, his health started deteriorating at a fast pace. However, according to the doctors there was a ray of hope – Neeraj, his 7 year old brother.  His umbilical cord blood was harvested and saved after his birth and that meant Nikhil’s chance of survival. Presently, cell-stem transplant is the only cure for B-Thal major.

To match the compatibility of the donor and the receiver, HLA Typing is necessary. After the typing, the compatibility was matched. After a successful transplant, Nikhil made a recovery and now shows no signs of B-Thal.

About HLA

HLA (human leukocyte antigen) is a protein or marker – found on cells in human body. Immune system uses HLA markers to know which cells belong in our body & which don’t. Its main use is in organ and tissue transplant treatments. It checks if receiver and donor are compatible.

For example, in bone marrow transplant, HLA genes and antigens of donor and the recipient should be same or match closely for a transplant to be successful. Otherwise the donor’s tissue may get attacked or rejected by the recipient’s immune system.

HLA testing and matching
Image credits- bethematch.org

What is HLA Typing?

A high-resolution typing result is defined as a set of alleles that encode  the  same  protein  sequence  for  the  region  of  the  HLA molecule called the antigen binding site and that exclude alleles that are not expressed as cell-surface proteins.

Every person (except identical twins) has different sets of HLA alleles. Transplanted organs are allografts, in which the donor organ and the recipient are genetically different. Compatibility (matching) of the HLA of the donor and the recipient increases the chance for a successful engraftment. Matching is determined by comparing alleles. Resolution is the level of detail with which an allele is determined. The MHC is a polymorphic locus encoding the HLA genes.

Antigens encoded by the HLA genes are responsible for allograft tissue and organ rejection. Identifying and matching alleles increases the chance of successful organ and tissue transplant. These antigens help the body’s immune system distinguish which cells are “self” and which are “foreign” or “non-self.” Any cells that are recognized as “non-self” can trigger an immune response, including the production of antibodies.

Different kinds of transplants necessitate different levels of matching between donor and intended recipient. This may determine which HLA tests are performed and which HLA genes are tested for.

HLA antigens and their corresponding sequence alleles are determined by serological- and DNA- based methods.

Why is it necessary?

Determination of HLA alleles by DNA typing techniques is necessary for HLA matching of donor and recipient at transplantation, medical research of HLA-related diseases and individual identification including paternity testing.

This testing also includes screening transplant recipients for the presence of antibodies that might target the donated tissue or organ as part of an immune response.

HLA mis­matches found using very sensitive tissue-typing methods — methods known as “high-resolution” typing — can have just as significant an impact on trans­plant outcomes as mis­matches found using “low-resolution” methods.

High-resolution typing is important for ensuring the best possible match between donor and recipient because a match suggested by Low Resolution HLA Typing is generally only 56% accurate.

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Watch out for these 9 symptoms of Bone Marrow Cancer


Many people are diagnosed with bone cancer every year and almost half of them die because of it because of the late detection. Bone cancer originates from the cells that make up the interior part of the bones. Bone cancer is classified into two types- primary and secondary.

Primary bone cancer starts from cells in the hard bone tissue. It is a rare type of cancer and accounts for only two in every 1,000 cases of cancers diagnosed. This type of cancer is more common in men than in women.

Secondary bone cancer is a metastatic cancer, meaning – a cancer which started in another part of the body and spreads to the bone. This is more common form of cancer. Cancers of breast, prostate, lung, kidney, and thyroid can spread to the bones and initiate a cancer there. Treatment of this cancer is different from primary cancer.

Here are some symptoms which can possibly indicate bone marrow cancer –

Bone marrow cancer
Image credits – onlymyhealth.com
  1. Bone pain

Intense pain is in bones or joints is one of the major symptoms of bone cancer. This pain can be a result of cancer tumour- from tumour pressing against nearby nerve or organ or as a result of radiation. This pain usually intensifies during night. However, bone pain is also symptom of arthritis or injury.

  1. Easy bone fractures

The cancer affects the bone cells badly and makes them brittle. So if a bone gets fractured with a minor accident or pressure. E.g. Putting pressure or banging against the door slightly can result in fracture. This is a symptom of bone cancer.

  1. Weight loss

Weight loss that cannot be attributed to diet, exercise or any particular treatment can be a symptom of cancer. Here, the body loses its capacity to eliminate wastes and can also result in constipation.

  1. Inflammation

This symptom is common in primary bone cancer where the cancer develops inside the bone. It causes inflammation and swelling in the area where the tumour is present. It also makes skin very tender and sensitive.

Fatigue is a symptom of bone cancer
Image credits – testsieger-berichte.de
  1. Fatigue

Though this is a generalized symptom and can be associated with many other disorders; it is also a result of cancer. If the tiredness and fatigue doesn’t go with enough rest and proper diet, it can be a symptom of cancer.

  1. Anemia

Anemia occurs because the body produces more white blood cells to fight the disease and thus, production of healthy red blood cells decreases. It is one of the symptom of bone cancer.

  1. Appetite loss

As the cancer grows inside the body, the patient loses his energy and willingness to do physical work as well as physical and mental energy. The patient loses his desire to eat as the food no longer seems appetizing. The cancerous cells also absorb nutrients from the food and healthy cells get very little.

  1. Problem in sleeping

As the main symptom is pain in the bones, the person affected with bone cancer finds it extremely difficult sleeping or resting. Also, pain increases more during night and thus makes it hard for a person to have a sound sleep.

  1. Decreased immunity

To fight any disease, body produces extra white blood cells and it results in frequent infections and common diseases like cold, cough, flu, etc.

Our genes have 30% influences on our bone health. Along with our genes, bone health depends on many other factors such as age, diet, and proper exercise. Poor sunlight exposure, overuse of sun blocks, low calcium intake are some causes for lack of Vitamin D. Screening using genetic tests can help you to calculate your risk factors and take necessary measures.

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