HLA allelic distribution was analysed in a cohort of 96 Northern Italian subjects (53M/43F) (mean age 59.9 ± 13.3 years) from Lombardy who developed COVID-19 during the first two pandemic waves to investigate possible correlations between HLA molecules and disease severity. An important role of HLA- B and HLA-C loci in modulating the clinical severity of COVID-19 disease was identified. In particular, the HLA-B07 supertype was observed to be associated with a significant risk for severe disease; conversely, the HLA-B27 supertype and C*12:02 allele played a protective role as they were associated with milder disease. These associations were confirmed after applying a multinomial regression analysis to adjust the correlation for age, gender and comorbidities with COVID-19 severity. Though the power of results is limited by the small sample size, data herein contribute to shedding light on the role played by genetic background in COVID-19 infection.
Keywords: COVID-19; HLA; SARS-CoV-2; disease severity.