Although genome-wide association studies have identified several susceptibility loci for adult glioma, little is known regarding the potential contribution of genetic variation in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region to glioma risk. HLA associations have been reported for various malignancies, with many studies investigating selected candidate HLA polymorphisms. However, no systematic analysis has been conducted in glioma patients, and no investigation into potential non-additive effects has been described. We conducted comprehensive genetic analyses of HLA variants among 1746 adult glioma patients and 2312 controls of European-ancestry from the GliomaScan Consortium. Genotype data were generated with the Illumina 660-Quad array, and we imputed HLA alleles using a reference panel of 5225 individuals in the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium who underwent high-resolution HLA typing via next-generation sequencing. Case-control comparisons were adjusted for population stratification using ancestry-informative principal components. Because alleles in different loci across the HLA region are linked, we created multigene haplotypes consisting of the genes DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1. Although none of the haplotypes were associated with glioma in additive models, inclusion of a dominance term significantly improved the model for multigene haplotype HLA-DRB1*1501-DQA1*0102-DQB1*0602 (P = 0.002). Heterozygous carriers of the haplotype had an increased risk of glioma [odds ratio (OR) 1.23; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.49], while homozygous carriers were at decreased risk compared with non-carriers (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.40-1.01). Our results suggest that the DRB1*1501-DQA1*0102-DQB1*0602 haplotype may contribute to the risk of glioma in a non-additive manner, with the positive dominance effect partly explained by an epistatic interaction with HLA-DRB1*0401-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0301.
Keywords: Brain tumor; Epistasis; Glioma; HLA; Interactions; MHC; Non-additive effects.