HLA-DPB1 and chronic beryllium disease: a HuGE review

Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Mar 1;157(5):388-98. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwg001.


The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex is a series of genes located on chromosome 6 that are important in normal immune function. Susceptibility to chronic beryllium disease, a granulomatous lung disease that appears in workers exposed to beryllium, is modified by genetic variants of the HLA-DP subregion. Evaluation of HLA-DPB1 sequence motifs in current and former beryllium workers implicated a glutamic acid residue at position 69 (HLA-DPB1(Glu69)) in chronic beryllium disease. This finding has since been extended to specific HLA-DPB1(Glu69) alleles. Specific job tasks have also been implicated in degree of risk, and in this paper the authors explore gene-environment interaction. The utility of this genetic information for prospective, current, and former beryllium workers must be weighed against the potential for employment and insurance discrimination. Continued research in the beryllium-exposed population will be important for improving personal risk assessment and identifying high-risk genes associated with disease progression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Berylliosis / epidemiology
  • Berylliosis / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 6
  • Chronic Disease
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genetic Variation
  • HLA-DP Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-DP beta-Chains
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / genetics*


  • HLA-DP Antigens
  • HLA-DP beta-Chains
  • HLA-DPB1 antigen