Aims/hypothesis: To further our understanding of antigen presentation by HLA class II molecules, we have examined the influence of HLA class II genotype on expression of autoantibodies to islet antigen-2 (IA-2A).
Methods: HLA class II genotype and IA-2A were determined within 3 months of diagnosis in 618 patients with type 1 diabetes (median age 11 years [range 0.7-20.9]). Antibodies to the juxtamembrane region of IA-2 were measured by a radiobinding assay in 481 of 484 IA-2A-positive patients.
Results: IA-2A prevalence was highest in patients carrying at least one HLA-DRB1*04-DQA1*0301 (385 of 450; 86%), DRB1*07-DQA1*(0201 or 0301) (58 of 64; 91%) or DRB1*09-DQA1*0301 haplotype (18 of 19; 95%). Multiple regression showed that IA-2A were strongly associated with the number of these haplotypes carried; only 69 of 132 (52%) patients carrying none of these haplotypes had IA-2A, compared with 322 of 391 (82%) patients with one and 93 of 95 (98%) with two of these haplotypes (p < 0.001). IA-2 juxtamembrane antibodies were less frequent in IA-2A-positive patients with one (35%) or two (36%) DRB1*03-DQB1*02 or DRB1*07-DQB1*02 haplotypes than in those negative for these haplotypes (52%) (p = 0.002), but showed an independent positive association with IA-2A level (p < 0.001).
Conclusions/interpretation: HLA class II alleles strongly influence the prevalence of IA-2A. The high IA-2A prevalence in patients carrying DRB1*04, DRB1*07 and DRB1*09 alleles in linkage disequilibrium with DQA1*0301 or the closely related DQA1*0201 suggests the humoral response to IA-2 may be driven by HLA-DQA1 genes.