Beryllium sensitivity is linked to HLA-DP genotype

Toxicology. 2001 Aug 13;165(1):27-38. doi: 10.1016/s0300-483x(01)00410-3.


Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) appears to arise from a combination of both exposure and genetic risk factors. A distinguishing feature of CBD is beryllium hypersensitivity, which can be measured in vitro by a lymphocyte proliferation test. The objective of this study was to determine whether certain allelic variations of the HLA-DPB1 gene, which had been observed previously in CBD, could be found in a group of individuals having beryllium hypersensitivity, but no symptoms of CBD. A flow cytometry-based Lymphocyte Proliferation Test combined with immunophenotyping (Immuno-LPT) was used to detect CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation in response to in vitro stimulation with beryllium. The HLA-DPB1 haplotypes of the same individuals were determined by automated DNA sequencing. Twenty-two out of 25 beryllium-sensitive, non-CBD individuals were found to be carriers of the HLA-DPB1 gene having a substitution of a glutamic acid at position 69 in Exon 2 (Glu69), and a significantly high percentage (24%) were Glu69 homozygotes. Most of the CD4+ responders on the Immuno-LPT (10/14) carried rare, non-*0201 Glu69 DPB1 alleles; while most of the non-CD4+ responders (9/11) were common Glu69 carriers (*0201 or *0202) or non-Glu69 individuals (non-Glu69/non-Glu69). This is the first direct evidence that HLA-DP genotype is linked to a phenotypic response that occurs in beryllium sensitization in the absence of clinical CBD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Berylliosis / genetics*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Genotype
  • HLA-DP Antigens / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Phenotype
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets


  • HLA-DP Antigens
  • DNA