Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

MHC Compatibility

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1013-1



The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) refers to a large, highly dense genomic region found in most vertebrates which encodes proteins that display both self- and non-self antigens to white blood cells called T cells that can eliminate pathogens or malfunctioning cells. In humans, the MHC is also called the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) system. MHC Compatibility refers to the role of the MHC in mate selection.


Since the debut of major histocompatibility complex- (MHC) dependent mate preferences in mice in 1976 (Yamazaki et al.), a number of studies have been conducted to determine the role of MHC across species, identify mechanisms of MHC identification, and distinguish among hypotheses about the adaptive significance of having this ability. Three main hypotheses have been suggested (discussed in Penn and Potts 1999): first, that dissortative mating on MHC genotypes...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State University - West CampusPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Division of CardiologyUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus