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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

The forgotten tale of immunoglobulin allotypes in cancer risk and treatment

Janardan P Pandey12* and Zihai Li12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

2 Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29466, USA

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Experimental Hematology & Oncology 2013, 2:6  doi:10.1186/2162-3619-2-6

Published: 20 February 2013


Monoclonal antibody (mAb) has fulfilled the promise of being the “Magic Bullet” in oncology with the clinical success of mAbs against CD20, Her-2/neu, epidermal growth factor receptor, vascular endothelial cell growth factor and others in a variety of cancers. Most manufacturers of mouse-human chimeric antibodies (and most immunologists) have treated the constant region of human immunoglobulin (Ig) as if it were naturally monomorphic and therefore not immunogenic in humans. In fact, the constant region of Ig heavy and light chain is highly polymorphic, and yet Ig haplotypes are usually not defined by genome-wide association studies nor are they considered to be important for optimizing mAb therapy. We hereby summarize evidence that Ig allotypes are important and biologically relevant in that they contribute to the etiopathogenesis of many malignant, infectious, and autoimmune diseases. Because Ig allotypes differ from each other in engaging Fc receptor, we argue that future development of effective mAb therapy for cancer should take a patient-specific approach by using the correct allotype for each patient to maximize the efficacy of this therapy.

GM and KM allotypes; IGHG genes; ADCC; CDC; Isoallotypes; Immunosurveillance; GVL