Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory

About Transplant Immunology

The human immune system is designed to protect us from harmful viruses, bacteria, and malignant tumors. It does this by recognizing human leukocyte antigens (HLA), which are genetic fingerprints that help the body distinguish between its own cells and foreign substances. If the immune system detects foreign invaders, it responds by attacking them to combat the spread of disease.

Just as the body can launch an immune reaction against bacteria, it can also initiate a harmful immune reaction aimed at transplanted organs and cells, known as graft rejection. Immune reactions that target transplanted organs are very serious, and can threaten the transplanted organ and patient survival.


To avoid post-transplant immune reactions, it's important to find the best match between donor and recipient. Patients being considered for transplantation undergo extensive evaluations to assess their HLA type, the presence of existing anti-HLA antibodies, and to determine the degree of matching with the transplant donor. After transplant, a variety of tests are performed to monitor immune status of the transplant recipient.

About the Laboratory

The University of Chicago Medicine's Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory offers complete tissue type (histocompatibility) testing using state-of-the-art technology and procedures for patients waiting for organ or bone marrow transplants.

The laboratory supports the following transplant programs:

  • Kidney/Pancreas
  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Bone Marrow
  • Islet Cell

All testing is performed by highly qualified staff under the direction of Susana Marino, MD, PhD. The laboratory provides pre-transplant testing, post-transplant monitoring, and testing for HLA type and disease association.

Pre-Transplant Testing

The Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory perform pre-transplant testing in three areas:

  • First is the identification of tissue histocompatibility antigens and genes of patients and potential donors to assess the degree of match between them. The better the match of HLA antigens, the lower the chance for harmful post-transplant immune reactions.
  • The second area of testing is for detection and characterization of HLA-specific antibodies in patients awaiting transplant that could cause potential complications at the time of transplant.
  • The final area of pre-transplant assessment is crossmatch testing, which determines if the patient has developed HLA antibodies that will attack donor cells.

Post-Transplant Testing

Post-transplant testing services include routine monitoring of patients for early signs of rejection, and providing physician assistance with the course of treatment for patients who have had transplants.

Tests Offered

  • HLA-A, B, C (class I)
    Low resolution and high resolution (DNA-based typing)
  • HLA-DRB1, DRB3/4/5, DQA1, DQB1, DPB1 (class II)
    Low resolution (DNA-based typing)
  • HLA-DRB1, DQB1, DPB1 (class II)
    High resolution (DNA-based typing)
  • Class I and class II percent reactive antibody (PRA)
  • Class I and class II antibody identification
  • B-cell and T-cell crossmatches

Contact Us

For more information about the Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory, contact:

Susana Marino, MD, PhD
Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
MC 0006
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-5388
Fax: (773) 702-9082

Walter Herczyk, CHS
Laboratory Manager,
Transplant Immunology & Immunogenetics Laboratory
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
MC0006, RoomG-320
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-5388
Fax: (773) 702-9082