Human Leukocyte Antigen B*14:01 and B*35:01 Are Associated With Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole Induced Liver Injury

Hepatology. 2021 Jan;73(1):268-281. doi: 10.1002/hep.31258.


Background and aims: Trimethoprim (TMP)-sulfamethoxazole (SMX) is an important cause of idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (DILI), but its genetic risk factors are not well understood. This study investigated the relationship between variants in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class 1 and 2 genes and well-characterized cases of TMP-SMX DILI.

Approach and results: European American and African American persons with TMP-SMX DILI were compared with respective population controls. HLA sequencing was performed by Illumina MiSeq (Illumina, San Diego, CA) for cases. The HLA genotype imputation with attribute bagging program was used to impute HLA alleles for controls. The allele frequency difference between case patients and controls was tested by Fisher's exact tests for each ethnic group. For European Americans, multivariable logistic regression with Firth penalization was used to test the HLA allelic effect after adjusting for age and the top two principal components. Molecular docking was performed to assess HLA binding with TMP and SMX. The European American subset had 51 case patients and 12,156 controls, whereas the African American subset had 10 case patients and 5,439 controls. Four HLA alleles were significantly associated in the European American subset, with HLA-B*14:01 ranking at the top (odds ratio, 9.20; 95% confidence interval, 3.16, 22.35; P = 0.0003) after covariate adjustment. All carriers of HLA-B*14:01 with TMP-SMX DILI possessed HLA-C*08:02, another significant allele (P = 0.0026). This pattern was supported by HLA-B*14:01-HLA-C*08:02 haplotype association (P = 1.33 × 10-5 ). For the African American patients, HLA-B*35:01 had 2.8-fold higher frequency in case patients than in controls, with 5 of 10 patients carrying this allele. Molecular docking showed cysteine at position 67 in HLA-B*14:01 and phenylalanine at position 67 in HLA-B*35:01 to be the predictive binding sites for SMX metabolites.

Conclusions: HLA-B*14:01 is associated with TMP-SMX DILI in European Americans, and HLA-B*35:01 may be a potential genetic risk factor for African Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Black or African American / genetics
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • HLA-B Antigens / genetics*
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / adverse effects*
  • White People / genetics*


  • HLA-B Antigens
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination