Standard Article

Major Histocompatibility Complex: Human

  1. Dustin J Penn,
  2. Petteri Ilmonen

Published Online: 23 SEP 2005

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003987



How to Cite

Penn, D. J. and Ilmonen, P. 2005. Major Histocompatibility Complex: Human. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 SEP 2005


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a large genetic region that contains the most polymorphic loci known in humans and other vertebrates. MHC genes are the most intensively studied genes because they influence so many important traits, including resistance to infectious diseases, autoimmunity, compatibility of tissue transplants, spontaneous abortion, odour and mating preferences.


  • human leucocyte antigen (HLA);
  • tissue rejection;
  • genetics and disease resistance;
  • host–parasite coevolution;
  • mating preferences;
  • spontaneous abortion