The role of the HLA-G gene and molecule on the clinical expression of rheumatologic diseases

Rev Bras Reumatol. 2012 Jan-Feb;52(1):82-91.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Human leukocyte antigen G (HLA-G) is a non-classic class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule characterized by low polymorphism in its coding region, a limited tissue distribution pattern in physiologic conditions, and expression through soluble isoforms and isoforms bound to surface membranes through alternative splicing. HLA-G is fairly known since it is involved in induction and maintenance of tolerance between the maternal immunologic system and the semi-allogeneic fetus at the level of the fetal-placental interface. Besides, several studies have indicated a wider immunoregulatory role of this molecule. In this context, the expression of HLA-G in inflammatory and rheumatologic diseases is a relatively recent research area. The first studies described the expression of HLA-G in several inflammatory myopathies, atopic dermatitis, and cutaneous psoriasis. Based on the findings that HLA-G could divert T helper responses to the Th2 type, it was hypothesized that HLA-G would be a protective molecule in inflammatory responses. In this article, we review the potential roles of the HLA-G molecule in the immune system and in several rheumatologic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • HLA-G Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-G Antigens / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Rheumatic Diseases / etiology*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / genetics


  • HLA-G Antigens