Objectives: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the commonest rheumatic disease of childhood. Uveitis is the commonest eye complication of JIA, potentially leading to eye surgery and/or visual loss. JIA is a complex genetic trait with well-established HLA-DRB1 associations. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of HLA-DRB1 in JIA-associated uveitis.
Methods: A set of 130 UK Caucasian simplex families consisting of healthy parent(s) and a child affected with juvenile oligoarticular idiopathic arthritis (of which 31 had developed uveitis) had previously been screened for multiple markers in the major histocompatibility complex region. Associations with uveitis were investigated through haplotype pattern mining (HPM) and the extended transmission disequilibrium test (ETDT). A further set of 228 UK Caucasian patients with long-standing JIA were fully genotyped for HLA-DRB1 using PCR with sequence-specific primers. Associations of HLA-DRB1 alleles in patients with uveitis (n = 50) were examined individually using the chi 2 test.
Results: In the first cohort, HPM identified significant associations of HLA-DRB1*13 with uveitis in juvenile oligoarthritis (P = 0.002). The ETDT confirmed overtransmission of this allele in the families (empirical global P = 0.018). In the second cohort, the significant association of uveitis with HLA-DRB1*13 was replicated (P = 0.0002, odds ratio 3.4, 95% confidence interval 1.7-6.5).
Conclusions: This study has established the HLA-DRB1*13 association with uveitis in JIA. Further work is necessary in order to explore the prognostic potential of this marker.