Background: Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene region harbours haplotypes that associate with coronary artery disease (CAD). Their role in ST-elevation infarction (STEMI) or on the inflammatory level is not known.
Methods: Four candidate MHC markers were analyzed by real-time quantitative PCR and constructed into haplotypes from patients with STEMI (n = 162), matched controls with no CAD (n = 319) and general population sample (n = 149). High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) was assessed in a follow-up visit from patients (n = 86) and at inclusion from other study subjects.
Results: The haplotype with one copy of HLA-DRB1*01, C4A, C4B but no HLA-B*35 doubled the risk of STEMI (OR = 2.15, 95%CI = 1.11-4.15, p = 0.020 for patients vs. controls, and OR = 2.26, 95%CI = 0.97-5.24, p = 0.052 for patients vs. population sample). The association between patients and controls persisted in multivariate analyses. The frequency of the haplotype was 5.86% (n = 19/324) in patients, 2.82% (n = 18/638) in controls and 2.68% (n = 8/298) in population sample. None of the individual MHC markers alone showed significant association with STEMI. In multivariate analyses, the haplotype carriers had higher hsCRP levels in patients (median 3.37 mg/L in carriers vs. 1.14 mg/L in non-carriers, p = 0.019) and in controls (median 2.90 mg/L vs. 1.21 mg/L, p = 0.009, respectively).
Conclusion: The MHC haplotype associates with STEMI and elevated baseline hsCRP levels. The results are in concordance with previous data on non-STEMI patients, implying that a HLA-DRB1*01--related haplotype increases the risk of CAD, possibly though increased inflammation.
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