HLA-DQB1*05:02, *05:03, and *03:01 alleles as risk factors for myasthenia gravis in a Spanish cohort

Neurol Sci. 2022 Aug;43(8):5057-5065. doi: 10.1007/s10072-022-06102-y. Epub 2022 May 6.


Background: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a very heterogenic chronic autoimmune disease caused by the failure of neuromuscular transmission. The HLA gene complex has conventionally been recognized as its main genetic risk and phenotype modifying factor. Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of HLA class I and II alleles and to identify possible risk factors for sporadic MG in a Spanish cohort.

Methods: We designed a clinical case-control study comparing HLA alleles and haplotype frequencies in a cohort of 234 patients with sporadic autoimmune MG with data from a group of 492 randomly selected healthy subjects. Using a high-resolution next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based HLA genotyping assay, we investigated the contribution of HLA genotypes and haplotypes in the resulting phenotype, especially, the age at onset, sex, onset MGFA class, thymic histopathology, and serological status.

Results: We found that the DQB1*05:02 and DQB1*05:03 alleles could be novel risk factors for Spanish MG cases. The HLA alleles A*01:01, B*08:01, DRB1*03:01, DRB1*14:54, and DQB1*02:01 were also risk factors for the disease. DQB1*03:01 acted as a risk factor for EOMG in women with AChR-positive antibodies and thymus hyperplasia. Additionally, several alleles were identified as potential phenotype-modifying factors that could exert a protective effect: HLA-B*35:08, DRB1*13:01, and DQB1*06:03 in MG; HLA-A*24:02 in women and DRB1*07:01 and DQB1*02:02 for early onset. HLA-C*07:01 and haplotype A1-B8-C7-DR3-DQ2 were associated with an early-onset phenotype.

Keywords: Association; Genetic factors; HLA; Myasthenia gravis; Predisposition; Protection; Risk.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease* / genetics
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains / genetics
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / epidemiology
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / genetics
  • Risk Factors


  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DQB1 antigen
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains