Age-specific effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis-associated HLA alleles

Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Sep;42(9):1843-53. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199909)42:9<1843::AID-ANR8>3.0.CO;2-M.


Objective: To define the onset and duration of effect of the HLA alleles that are associated with disease susceptibility and protection in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and 2 of its subtypes.

Methods: We typed 680 patients with JRA and 254 ethnically matched unrelated controls for HLA class I and II genes. The frequency of each allele was calculated for each of the age-at-onset, onset type, and sex categories and plotted against the allele frequency in the control population. Survival analysis (with onset of disease as the terminating event) was used to calculate the age by which 50% (St0.5) and 80% (St0.2) of the children with particular alleles and combinations of alleles develop disease. This allele-specific survival analysis also allowed for the comparison of the overall survival functions for the various JRA subtype and sex categories.

Results: Certain alleles are strongly associated with early susceptibility to pauciarticular JRA, including HLA-A2, DR8, DR5, and DPB1*0201. Fifty percent of the children carrying at least 1 of these alleles had disease onset prior to their third birthday. Among children who carried HLA-A2 and any 2 HLA-DR alleles (DR3, DR5, DR6, or DR8), the median age at the onset of pauciarticular disease was 2.7 years. Combinations of A2 and DPB1*0201 and one DR allele narrowed the window further to a median age at onset of 2.4 years. B27 and DR4 were associated with protection early in life but with increased risk later in childhood, with St0.5 values of 7.3 and 6.6 years, respectively, for pauciarticular JRA and St0.5 values of 10.2 and 10.7 years, respectively, for polyarticular JRA. Sex strongly influenced the age at which many of the alleles have their effect.

Conclusion: These data define at what age and for how long various HLA alleles influence susceptibility and protection (window-of-effect) in patients with JRA. In addition, these data establish more clearly the boundaries of ages-at-onset for 2 of the subtypes of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alleles
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / genetics*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / epidemiology
  • HLA Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-DR1 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-DR4 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-DR5 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-DR6 Antigen / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Time Factors


  • HLA Antigens
  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • HLA-DR1 Antigen
  • HLA-DR4 Antigen
  • HLA-DR5 Antigen
  • HLA-DR6 Antigen