HLA-DRB1 and MICA in autoimmunity: common associated alleles in autoimmune disorders

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Nov;1005:314-8. doi: 10.1196/annals.1288.049.


Autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes (T1DM), celiac disease (CD), and Addison's disease (ADD) develop in individuals with genetic susceptibility that are exposed to environmental triggering factors not completely defined. Patients with an autoimmune disease (and their relatives) are at increased risk of developing another disorder, and this might be caused by a common genetic origin of autoimmunity; for example, HLA class II region in 6p21 shows a very strong association with most diseases. The aim of this study was to determine whether shared susceptibility markers extend from the central (DRB1) through the telomeric (MICA) HLA region. We analyzed three independent sets of families with one autoimmune disease, T1DM, CD, or ADD, and genotyped them for HLA-DRB1 and for the exon 5 GCT polymorphism of MICA. For HLA-DRB1, allele DRB1*0301 was the only one associated with risk for all three diseases; in the case of MICA, allele A9 was found to be the common protective allele. Haplotype analysis shows that haplotype A5.1-DRB1*0301 confers risk to autoimmunity. Our results show that there are common risk and protection alleles in both loci, suggesting a core of genetic association with autoimmunity (HLA-DRB1*0301 risk; A9 protection) that could be modulated by other alleles/loci or environmental factors toward one or another disease. Some alleles are part of conserved haplotypes (A5.1-DR3, A5.1-DR2), whereas others seem to have independent effect (A9) and support the idea of two independent loci in this region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Child
  • Female
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male


  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • HLA-DRB1*03:01 antigen
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • MHC class I-related chain A