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Institute for Transfusion Medicine and Gene Therapy

Immunogenetics Laboratory -
Transplantation Immunology

Department head: Dr. Florian Emmerich

The Immunogenetics Laboratory collaborates closely with the Department of Internal Medicine I and the Transplantation Center of the University Medical Center Freiburg. The key responsibilities of this lab are  immunological diagnostics for solid organs and blood stem cell transplantations. In addition, the DNA of some 3,000 people who have volunteered for stem cell donation is tested every year.  

The laboratory tests are used to determine and compare human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers between the recipient and the potential donor. As HLA markers can vary considerably between recipient and donor, their exact determination is essential for successful transplantation.

In immunogenetics, classical serological methods have been progressively replaced by modern molecular typing based techniques. The introduction of a next generation sequencing platform allows us to perform high-throughput HLA typing in a cost effective manner. In addition, we are currently establishing real-time PCR-based HLA donor typing. This approach will considerably shorten the time needed for organ donor typing before transplantation, so resulting in reduced ischemia time. Moreover, this technique provides a highly accurate characterization of at least six HLA loci, thereby allowing a thorough assessment of the immunological compatibility of the donor organ with the recipient.

Another focus is the analysis of antibodies directed against HLA antigens. According to European regulation patients awaiting organ transplantation must be screened every three months for the presence of HLA antibodies. This is done using classical lymphocytotoxicity assays (LCT) and the Luminex technology. The latter allows us to accurately specify antibodies directed against HLA class I and class II antigens. This approach is supplemented by Luminex-based detection of complement-binding antibodies, allowing for an improved assessment of their clinical relevance.

The above-mentioned tests are also part of an immunomonitoring program in which transplanted patients are screened post-transplantation for the emergence of de novo antibodies against the transplant. These analyses can be helpful for the early detection of rejection episodes.  

The laboratory is accredited by the European Federation for Immunogenetics (EFI).



As a contract laboratory of the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO), we provide technical and medical services 24/7.

Diagnostic services provided by the Immunogenetics Laboratory

Head of Diagnostics: Dr. Martin Bernheiden

The used methods comply with the standards of the European Federation for Immunogenetics (EFI) and Eurotransplant (ET). The quality of testing is monitored through the regular participation in inter-laboratory trials of INSTAND e.V. (Society for the Promotion of Quality Assurance in Medical Laboratories e.V.) and Eurotransplant.

HLA-typing techniques:

  • HLA typing by high-throughput next generation sequencing (NGS)
  • real-time-PCR for fast donor-typing prior to transplantation
  • HLA-typing for disease association studies

Detection and specification of human leukocyte antigen (HLA-) antibodies:

  • Lymphocytotoxicity assays with and without DTT for the detection of complement-activating HLA antibodies (IgG and IgM)
  • Luminex platform for antibody-specification
  • Luminex-C3d-test for specification of complement-activating antibodies
  • Serological compatibility test prior to organ transplantation




Dr. Florian Emmerich,
Department Head

Institute for Transfusion Medicine and Gene Therapy
Hugstetter Straße 55
79106 Freiburg  

Phone +49 761 270 3471 0
Fax +49 761 270 3790 0


Dr. rer. nat. Martin Bernheiden
Head of Diagnostics

Institute for Transfusion Medicine and Gene Therapy
Hugstetter Straße 55
79106 Freiburg  

Phone +49 761 270 3477 1
Fax +49 761 270 3249 0  


Receipt of Samples
Phone +49 761 270 34820
Fax +49 761 270 32490