WellSpan Home

Health Library

HLA Antigen

Does this test have other names?

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing

What is this test?

This test looks at the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in your blood. This test is used if you need an organ or stem-cell transplant, to find an organ or stem cells that are as close to yours as possible. An improper match if you need a stem-cell transplant could cause the stem cells to harm you. A mismatched organ transplant can cause the organ to fail and be rejected.

HLAs are proteins found on the surface of most of the cells in your body. They signal to your immune system which cells are parts of your body and which cells are potentially harmful organisms. They play an important role in protecting you from infections, but they also make organ transplants more difficult.

HLAs are also involved in autoimmune diseases. These are diseases in which the body attacks its own tissues. The HLA test can be used to identify these diseases.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if you need an organ or stem-cell transplant. A heart, lung, or kidney transplant may be needed if your own organ is no longer able to work as it should. Testing helps make sure you have the best possible match between your HLA antigens and those on the organ you receive. You may also need this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have an autoimmune disease.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order these tests:

  • DNA test of HLA-related genes. This looks at the DNA from immune system cells taken from a blood sample.

  • HLA antibodies. People who have been pregnant or get a blood transfusion or organ transplant may have antibodies that will react with HLA antigens on a new transplant. It's common to test people for these antibodies before the transplant to find out whether they are likely to reject the transplant.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare provider.

Results of HLA typing vary according to a number of factors, including your age, the type of transplant, and your underlying disease. The results will show the degree to which HLA antigens match between you and the donor.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test.


HLA Antigen - WellSpan Health

Author: Metcalf, Eric
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Online Medical Reviewer: Snyder, Mandy, APRN
Last Review Date: 2015-10-19T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2016-02-10T00:00:00
Published Date: 2016-02-10T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2012-07-25T00:00:00
© 2016 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.