Indirect immunofluorescence and immunoperoxidase staining of surgically removed tissues of nonlymphoid origin with monoclonal antibodies to the heavy and light chain of HLA-A,B,C antigens have shown that they have a more restricted tissue distribution than previously assumed. HLA-A,B,C antigens were not detected in brain cortex, cerebellum, sympathetic ganglia, hypophysis, parathyroid gland, thyroid, exocrine pancreas, hepatocytes, sperm, seminiferous tubules, or skeletal or smooth muscle. Malignant transformation of cells may be associated with appearance, changes in cellular distribution of HLA-A,B,C antigens, and/or dissociation in the expression of the two subunits. Analysis of primary tumors and of autologous metastases showed heterogeneity in the expression of HLA-A,B,C antigens among lesions removed from different sites. The degree of heterogeneity did not correlate with the site of origin of metastases.

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This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Health, by CNR Progetto Finalizzato “Controllo della Crescita Neoplastica” N° 830089096, and by NIH Grants AI21384 and CA38469.

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