Use of MHC II structural features in the design of vaccines for organ-specific autoimmune diseases

Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(28):3262-73. doi: 10.2174/138161209789105117.


The Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II locus is the primary genetic linkage to autoimmune diseases. Susceptibility to each such disease is linked to different alleles, with a few alleles showing also dominant protection. The design of vaccines for autoimmune diseases is a long sought-after goal. As knowledge about the pathogenesis of these diseases has increased, the tools for such an approach have of necessity been refined. We review below the structural essence of MHC II-linked autoimmune diseases which centers on the binding of antigenic peptides to the disease-linked MHC II proteins, and the consequent activation of cognate TCRs from pathogenic CD4+ T cells. The state of affairs in two organ-specific autoimmune diseases, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease are covered, including attempts to treat these via antigen-specific MHC II-guided measures. We offer a couple of testable suggestions as to how this approach could be improved.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Drug Design
  • Genes, MHC Class II / genetics*
  • Genes, MHC Class II / immunology*
  • Genes, MHC Class II / physiology
  • HLA Antigens / chemistry
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / genetics*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / immunology*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • HLA Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Vaccines