HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory

The HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory provides human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing, HLA antibody screening and lymphocyte crossmatching services. These tests are required for patients undergoing evaluation for organ transplantation, for patients requiring platelet transfusions from HLA-matched donors and for patients undergoing evaluation of conditions with known associations to particular HLA alleles.

The Blood Center’s HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory was established in 1975 to provide HLA typing for platelet transfusion recipients. In 1977, the laboratory began HLA testing for bone marrow transplant recipients and for recipients of kidney transplants. In 1989, the transplantation services provided by the laboratory were divided (solid organ vs. bone marrow) in order to provide specialized services for the region.

Bloodworks Northwest’s HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory continues to provide testing for organ transplants performed at Seattle’s transplant centers: Seattle Children’s Hospital, Swedish Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center and the Virginia Mason Medical Center. The laboratory is accredited by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to serve as the sole laboratory providing testing for solid organ transplantation in the areas served by these transplant centers. Patients travel to Seattle from Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Central and Western Washington for their transplants. In addition, the laboratory continues to provide HLA typing for platelet transfusion recipients, for other patients whose HLA type may be useful in diagnosis of disease and for programs using immunotherapy to combat cancer or infectious disease. The laboratory at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (206-288-7700) provides HLA testing for recipients of bone marrow/stem cell transplants performed in Seattle.

The HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory has been in the forefront of developing sensitive, reliable assays for HLA testing. In addition, our laboratory is working closely with transplant physician researchers to develop tests to monitor rejection responses in patients after organ transplant. Laboratory testing and practices follow standards set by the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) and by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA).

HLA typing is performed using molecular biological techniques. Typing for HLA class I and class II alleles uses polymerase chain amplification based testing to assign alleles for the HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DRB1, HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4, HLA-DRB5, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DPA1, and HLA-DPB1 loci.

Detection of antibody to HLA antigens primarily uses immunofluorescence techniques. Antibody screening determines whether antibody to HLA antigens is present in patient serum. Crossmatching mixes serum from patients and lymphocytes from potential donors to test whether the patient has formed antibody to donor antigens.

HLA typing and crossmatching require lymphocytes. Our specimen collection guidelines stress collection in ACD or preservative-free sodium heparin, storage at ambient temperature, and receipt in the laboratory within 24 hours of collection in order to ensure the viability of the T and B lymphocytes. Serum for screening and crossmatching tests should not be collected in serum separator tubes.

Information about our testing may be obtained by phoning 206-689-6580. We are also happy to answer your questions regarding sample collection or shipping to the laboratory.

Your gift of blood, time or money saves lives.