Do ethnicity, degree of family relationship, and the spondyloarthritis subtype in affected relatives influence the association between a positive family history for spondyloarthritis and HLA-B27 carriership? Results from the worldwide ASAS cohort

Arthritis Res Ther. 2018 Aug 3;20(1):166. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1672-2.


Background: The Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) defines a positive family history (PFH) of spondyloarthritis (SpA) as the presence of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), acute anterior uveitis (AAU), reactive arthritis (ReA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and/or psoriasis in first-degree relatives (FDR) or second-degree relatives (SDR). In two European cohorts, a PFH of AS and AAU, but not other subtypes, was associated with human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27) carriership in patients suspected of axial SpA (axSpA). Because the importance of ethnicity or degree of family relationship is unknown, we investigated the influence of ethnicity, FDR, or SDR on the association between a PFH and HLA-B27 carriership in patients suspected of axSpA.

Methods: Baseline data from the ASAS cohort of patients suspected of axSpA were analyzed. Univariable analyses were performed. Each disease (AS, AAU, psoriasis, IBD, ReA) in a PFH according to the ASAS definition was a determinant in separate models with HLA-B27 carriership as outcome. Analyses were stratified for self-reported ethnicity, FDR, and SDR. Analyses were repeated in multivariable models to investigate independent associations.

Results: A total of 594 patients were analyzed (mean [SD] age 33.7 [11.7] years; 46% male; 52% HLA-B27+; 59% white, 36% Asian, 5% other). A PFH was associated with HLA-B27 carriership in patients with a white (OR, 2.3, 95% CI, 1.4-3.9) or Asian ethnicity (OR, 3.1, 95% CI, 1.6-5.8) and with a PFH in FDR (OR, 2.9, 95% CI, 1.8-4.5), but not with a PFH in SDR (OR, 1.7, 95% CI, 0.7-3.8) or in other ethnicities. A PFH of AS was positively associated with HLA-B27 carriership in all subgroups (white OR, 7.1; 95% CI, 2.9-17.1; Asian OR, 5.7; 95% CI, 2.5-13.2; FDR OR, 7.8; 95% CI, 3.8-16.0; SDR OR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.2-11.6). A PFH of AAU, ReA, IBD, or psoriasis was never positively associated with HLA-B27 carriership. In the multivariate analysis, similar results were found.

Conclusions: In the ASAS cohort, a PFH of AS, but not of AAU, ReA, IBD, or psoriasis, was associated with HLA-B27 carriership regardless of white or Asian ethnicity or degree of family relationship. This cohort and two European cohorts show that a PFH of AS and possibly a PFH of AAU can be used to identify patients who are more likely to be HLA-B27-positive and therefore may have an increased risk of axSpA.

Keywords: Axial spondyloarthritis; Degree of family relationship; Ethnicity; HLA-B27; Positive family history.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethnicity
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prohibitins
  • Spondylarthropathies / ethnology
  • Spondylarthropathies / genetics*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / ethnology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / genetics*


  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • PHB2 protein, human
  • Prohibitins