Abstract

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II deficiency (bare lymphocyte syndrome) is a rare inborn error of the immune system characterized by impaired antigen presentation and combined immunodeficiency. It causes severe and unremitting infections leading to progressive liver and lung dysfunctions and death during childhood. As in other combined immunodeficiency disorders, bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is considered the treatment of choice for MHC class II deficiency. We analyzed the files of 19 patients who have undergone BMT in our center. Of the 7 patients who underwent HLA- identical BMT, 3 died in the immediate posttransplant period of severe viral infections, whereas the remaining 4 were cured, with recovery of normal immune functions. Of the 12 patients who underwent HLA-haplo- identical BMT, 3 were cured, 1 was improved by partial engraftment, 7 died of infectious complications due to graft failure or rejection, and 1 is still immunodeficient because of engraftment failure. A favorable outcome in the HLA-non-identical BMT group was associated with an age of less than 2 years at the time of transplantation. All the patients with stable long-term engraftment had persistently low CD4 counts after transplantation (105 to 650/microL at last follow up), but no clear susceptibility to opportunistic infections despite persisting MHC class II deficiency on thymic epithelium and other nonhematopoietic cells. We conclude that HLA-identical and -haploidentical BMT can cure MHC class II deficiency, although the success rate of haploidentical BMT is lower than that in other combined immunodeficiency syndromes. HLA- haploidentical BMT should preferably be performed in the first 2 years of life, before the acquisition of chronic virus carriage and sequelae of infections.

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