ArticleLiterature Review

Genetics of hla-b27

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Abstract

The various subtypes of HLA-B27 are described together with their worldwide distribution. None is uniquely related to AS but the evidence favours a direct role for B27 in the disease pathogenesis.

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... Not everyone who is HLA-B27positive develops AS; it is likely that other genetic and/or environmental factors play a role in the etiology. 5 One recent theory is that AS is an autoimmune disorder that occurs subsequent to a Klebsiella pneumoniae infection in HLA-B27-positive individuals, with molecular mimicry between HLA-B27 and K pneumoniae bacterial antigens. 6 Elevated levels of antibodies to K pneumoniae have been noted in AS patients. ...
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Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease of unknown etiology that affects an estimated 350,000 persons in the United States and 600,000 in Europe, primarily Caucasian males in the second through fourth decades of life. Worldwide, the prevalence is 0.9%. Genetic linkage to HLA-B27 has been established. Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the axial skeleton and is characterized by inflammation and fusion of the sacroiliac joints, spine, and hips. The resultant deformity leads to severe functional impairment in approximately 30% of patients. Orthopaedic management primarily involves correction of hip deformity through total hip arthroplasty and, less frequently, correction of spinal deformity with spine osteotomy. Closing wedge osteotomies have the lowest incidence of complications. Whether patients with ankylosing spondylitis are at increased risk for heterotopic ossification remains controversial, but comparison with age- and sex-matched counterparts suggests no dramatically higher risk. Because of the high rate of missed fractures and complications after minor trauma in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, plain radiographs are usually not sufficient for evaluation. Thorough patient assessment should include a comprehensive history, physical examination, and laboratory studies.
... The disease in severe cases can progress to form the classic`bamboo spine'. It is well established that HLA-B27 is associated with AS in all racial groups examined [7,8], but it must be noted that the majority of HLA-B27 carriers are free from disease. Class I major histocompatibility (MHC) molecules such as HLA-B27 are found on virtually all cells except mature erythrocytes and trophoblasts, whereas class II molecules like HLA-DR1=DR4 are present on B cells, monocytes and dendritic cells, where they are thought to play a role in antigen presentation to T cells. ...
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It has been well established that many diseases are linked to HLA antigens. Two of the most interesting HLA associations may provide some insight into the pathogenesis of rheumatic inflammatory conditions. In ankylosing spondylitis (AS), 96% of patients possess HLA-B27, whilst the frequency of this marker in the general population is c. 8%. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), >90% of patients possess either HLA-DR1 or some subtypes of HLA-DR4, whilst the frequency of this marker in the general population is c. 35%. The association between HLA-B27 and reactive arthritis (ReA) has also been well established. Furthermore, it has been shown that ReA is triggered by infection via the gastrointestinal tract due to Yersinia, Salmonella or Campylobacter spp. and in the genitourinary tract due to chlamydia. In a similar way, microbiological and immunological studies have revealed an association between Klebsiella pneumoniae in AS and Proteus mirabilis in RA. This article reviews the possible pathological implications of the associations between HLA-B27, K. pneumoniae and AS, as well as HLA-DR1/DR4, P. mirabilis and RA.
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Despite major advances in genetic and structural studies of the HLA-B27 antigen, the underlying mechanism responsible for the remarkable association between this antigen and spondylarthropathies remains unknown. At a molecular level, the use of B27M1 and B27M2 monoclonal antibodies has permitted the identification of distinct allospecific epitopes on the B27 molecule. One of these epitopes, B27M2, is polymorphic and has allowed us to define B27 variants: B27M2[+], B27M2[-], and B27M2[int]. The heterogeneity of the B27 antigen correlates well with biochemical and cytotoxic evidence of genetic heterogeneity. These variants exhibit ethnic variation and also appear to correlate, in preliminary studies, with disease susceptibility, especially among Orientals. HLA gene probing is potentially an even more precise tool than monoclonal antibodies for the study of MHC-related disease susceptibilities. Initial work in our laboratory has resulted in the production of probes with specificity for HLA-B locus genes and current efforts are directed toward the derivation of B27 allele-specific probes. It seems likely that, when such probes are applied to B27-positive individuals, complexity in addition to the B27M2 variants will be revealed. Yet to be defined is the mechanism behind the association between B27 and AS. Is the association causal for disease, or is B27 indeed just a marker for other pathogenic factors somehow linked to it? Available evidence points to both causal and linked roles for B27 in ankylosing spondylitis. Products of both HLA and non-HLA gene families may interact with infectious disease pathogens in susceptible individuals to produce a disorder which may not be specific in its association with any one pathogenic factor.