Population genetic relationships between Mediterranean populations determined by HLA allele distribution and a historic perspective

Tissue Antigens. 2002 Aug;60(2):111-21. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0039.2002.600201.x.


HLA genes allele distribution has been studied in Mediterranean and sub-Saharan populations. Their relatedness has been tested by genetic distances, neighbour-joining dendrograms and correspondence analyses. The population genetic relationships have been compared with the history of the classical populations living in the area. A revision of the historic postulates would have to be undertaken, particularly in the cases when genetics and history are overtly discordant. HLA genomics shows that: 1) Greeks share an important part of their genetic pool with sub-Saharan Africans (Ethiopians and west Africans) also supported by Chr 7 Markers. The gene flow from Black Africa to Greece may have occurred in Pharaonic times or when Saharan people emigrated after the present hyperarid conditions were established (5000 years B.C.). 2) Turks (Anatolians) do not significantly differ from other Mediterraneans, indicating that while the Asians Turks carried out an invasion with cultural significance (language), it is not genetically detectable. 3) Kurds and Armenians are genetically very close to Turks and other Middle East populations. 4) There is no HLA genetic trace of the so called Aryan invasion, which has only been defined on doubtful linguistic bases. 5) Iberians, including Basques, are related to north-African Berbers. 6) Present-day Algerian and Moroccan urban and country people show an indistinguishable Berber HLA profile.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Alleles*
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population* / history
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • HLA Antigens / history*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Linguistics
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny


  • HLA Antigens