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Transplantation immunobiology

Section Editor
Daniel C Brennan, MD, FACP
Deputy Editor
Albert Q Lam, MD


The mammalian immune system is an extraordinarily complex system that has developed in response to evolutionary stressors provided by coexistence with micro-organisms over millions of years. The system can be divided into two components:

Natural immunity, which refers to the nonspecific immune response

Adaptive immunity, which refers to the response to a specific antigen

In organ transplantation, the principal target of the immune response to the graft are the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules expressed on the surface of donor cells (allo-MHC); this feature is a form of adaptive immunity.

The immunobiology of solid transplantation will be reviewed here. The immunobiology of bone marrow or stem transplantation, which primarily involves graft-versus-host (GVH) and graft-versus-tumor effects, is presented separately. (See "Pathogenesis of graft-versus-host disease" and "Biology of the graft-versus-tumor effect following hematopoietic cell transplantation".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 18, 2017.
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