Transfusion of minor histocompatibility antigen–mismatched platelets induces rejection of bone marrow transplants in mice

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Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) represents a cure for nonmalignant hematological disorders. However, compared with the stringent conditioning regimens used when performing BMT to treat hematological malignancies, the reduced intensity conditioning regimen used in the context of nonmalignant hematological disorders leads to substantially higher rates of BMT rejection, presumably due to an intact immune system. The relevant patient population typically receives transfusion support, often including platelets, and the frequency of BMT rejection correlates with the frequency of transfusion. Here, we demonstrate that immunity to transfused platelets contributes to subsequent BMT rejection in mice, even when the BMT donor and recipient are MHC matched. We used MHC-matched bone marrow because, although immunity to transfused platelets is best characterized in relation to HLA-specific antibodies, such antibodies are unlikely to play a role in clinical BMT rejection that is HLA matched. However, bone marrow is not matched in the clinic for minor histocompatibility antigens, such as those carried by platelets, and we report that transfusion of minor histocompatibility antigen–mismatched platelets induced subsequent BMT rejection. These findings indicate previously unappreciated sequelae of immunity to platelets in the context of transplantation and suggest that strategies to account for minor histocompatibility mismatching may help to reduce the chance of BMT rejection in human patients.

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