Is HLA the cause of the high incidence of type 1 diabetes in the Canary Islands? Results from the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium (T1DGC)

Endocrinol Diabetes Nutr. 2017 Mar;64(3):146-151. doi: 10.1016/j.endinu.2016.12.003. Epub 2017 Feb 16.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Incidence of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus in the Canary Islands is the highest reported so far in Spain, and among the highest worldwide. The HLA region accounts for approximately half the genetic risk of type 1 diabetes. Our aim was to assess distribution of high-risk and protective HLA haplotypes in the Canarian families included in the T1DGC, as compared to the rest of Spain.

Methods: The T1DGC study, an international project to study the genetics and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes, enrolled more than 3000 families with type 1 diabetes worldwide. Spain provided 149 of these families, of whom 42 were from Tenerife and Gran Canaria. HLA was genotyped centrally using a PCR-based, sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe system. Haplotypes were reconstructed using the deterministic algorithm alleHap in the R programming environment. Based on prior T1DGC results in Caucasian population, haplotypes DRB1*0405-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302, DRB1*0401-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302, DRB1*0301-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0201, DRB1*0402-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 and DRB1*0404-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 were considered high-risk. DRB1*0701-DQA1*0201-DQB1*0303, DRB1*1401-DQA1*0101-DQB1*0503, DRB1*1501-DQA1*0102-DQB1*0602, DRB1*1101-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0301, DRB1*1104-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0301, DRB1*1303-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0301, DRB1*1301-DQA1*0103-DQB1*0603 and DRB1*0403-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 were considered protective. The distribution of protective, high-risk, and other haplotypes in the (first two) affected siblings and unaffected parents from Canarian and non-Canarian Spanish families was compared (Chi-square test).

Results: No significant differences were found between the regions in distribution of the HLA haplotypes in the affected siblings or in the non-affected parents.

Conclusions: The high incidence of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes in the Canarian population does not appear to be explained by a greater prevalence of high-risk class II HLA haplotypes in families with the disease. However, sample size limits the differences that can be detected in this study.

Keywords: Antígeno leucocitario humano; Complejo mayor de histocompatibilidad; Diabetes tipo 1; Epidemiology; Epidemiología; Genetics; Genética; Haplotipo; Haplotype; Human leucocyte antigen; Major histocompatibility complex; Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • HLA-D Antigens / genetics*
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Sample Size
  • Siblings
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • HLA-D Antigens