The Role of HLA Class I Gene Variation in Autoimmune Diabetes

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The Review of Diabetic Studies,2005,2,2,97-109.
Published:May 2005
Type:Diabetic Perspectives
Author(s) affiliations:

Charles Sia1 and Michael Weinem2

1Department of Immunology, United Biomedical Inc., 25 Davids Drive, Hauppage, New York 11788, USA.

2Department of Economics, University of Dortmund, 44227 Dortmund, Germany.


The use of DNA-based genetic typing has enabled the identification of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) susceptible and protective major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles and haplotypes. The application of this approach has also progressed to locate MHC class I alleles that contribute to the clinicopathology of T1DM. Recent studies have shown a widespread involvement of genes from the MHC class I gene region in the clinicopathology of T1DM. These genes are demonstrated to be involved in contributing to progression from the preclinical stage of the disease, which is characterized by the occurrence of islet-specific antibodies, to clinical disease and also to the occurrence of autoimmunity. They can either contribute directly to disease development or indirectly in concert with other susceptible MHC class II alleles or haplotypes via linkage disequilibrium. Class I alleles may also be negatively associated with T1DM. These findings are useful for the development of future strategies in designing tolerogenic approaches for the prevention or even reversal of T1DM. In this article, the latest evidence for the different kinds of participation of HLA class I genes in the etiology of T1DM is reviewed. A metaanalysis which included existing association studies was also carried out in order to re-assess the relevance of class I genes in diabetes development. The analysis of an enlarged heterogeneous sample confirmed the involvement of previously detected serotypes in the etiology of T1DM, such as A24, B8 and B18, and revealed hitherto unknown associations with B60 and B62. The analysis points out that much of the conflicting results of previous association studies originate from inadequate sample sizes and accentuate the value of future investigations of larger samples for identifying linkage in multigenic diseases.