National Tissue Typing Laboratory

Based in Epsom, Auckland the National Tissue Typing Laboratory is responsible for tissue typing tests in support of New Zealand’s bone marrow and solid organ transplant programs.

Tissue typing is the matching of a patient, who requires a solid organ or bone marrow transplant, with potential donor(s) – ensuring they are compatible. Compatibility can involve matching HLA types or ensuring the patient does not have antibodies against a potential donor’s HLA.

Annually, the laboratory carries out approximately 8,000 tissue typing tests and screens over 9,000 samples for the presence of antibodies. The laboratory also helps to facilitate the transplantation of kidneys, hearts and lungs for patients requiring these organs and stem cell transplants for patients with haematological disorders.

The Tissue Typing Laboratory is an American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI), and International Accreditation of New Zealand (IANZ) accredited laboratory.

What are tissue types?

A person’s tissue type comprises a set of distinct proteins called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) which are found on the surface of most cells. The genes which express HLA are located in a gene-dense area of chromosome 6 called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Many of the genes in this region are involved in modulation of the immune system. HLA’s primary role is in the adaptive immune system, recognising and presenting foreign peptides to the immune system.

Some tissue types are associated with complex auto-immune diseases, and correlation of the tissue type with clinical symptoms can help in the management of the disease. The laboratory also carries out testing for tissue types associated with hypersensitive drug reactions, for antibodies implicated in transfusion-related reactions, for antibodies against platelet antigens and is responsible for the provision of compatible or matched platelets.

Robots are used for DNA extractions and for pipetting, and two Luminex platforms carry out high throughput tissue typing and antibody screens and then the analysis. DNA sequencing is also used to ensure a patient requiring a stem cell transplant is fully matched with an unrelated donor. Skilled technologists are needed to operate all this technology and NZBS is very fortunate to have a very dedicated and experienced team running this laboratory.

Tissue Typing Sample Request Forms

The National Tissue Typing Sample Request forms for testing different patient and donor categories and their sample requirements are provided below:

Tissue Typing Sample Request Forms
132F005 – Request for Tissue Typing, Diagnostic Testing (pdf, 46 KB)
132F007 – Request for Tissue Typing, Monthly Serum Sample (pdf, 48 KB)
132F015 – Request for Tissue Typing, Solid Organ Recipient Testing (pdf, 46 KB)
132F016 – Request for Tissue Typing, Solid Organ Donor Testing (pdf, 44 KB)
132F017 – Request for Tissue Typing, Bone Marrow Transplant Patient Testing (pdf, 51 KB)
132F018 – Request for Tissue Typing, Bone Marrow Transplant Donor Testing (pdf, 263 KB)


For more information see the Blood Issues No 16 article or contact heather.dunckley@nzblood.co.nz

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