Novel HLA associations with outcomes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure and sarcoidosis in individuals of African ancestry using nearest-neighbor feature selection

Genet Epidemiol. 2022 Oct;46(7):463-474. doi: 10.1002/gepi.22490. Epub 2022 Jun 14.


Tuberculosis and sarcoidosis are inflammatory diseases characterized by granulomas that may occur in any organ but are often found in the lung. The panoply of classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles associated with occurrence and/or severity of both diseases varies considerably across studies. This heterogeneity of results, due to variation in factors like ancestry and disease subphenotype, as well as the use of simple modeling strategies to elucidate likely complex relationships, has made conclusions about underlying commonalities difficult. Here we perform HLA association analyses in individuals of African ancestry, using a greater resolution to include subphenotypes of disease and employing more comprehensive analytical techniques. Using a novel application of nearest-neighbor feature selection to score allelic importance, we investigated HLA allele association with Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure outcomes in the first analysis of both latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and active disease compared with those who, despite long-term exposure to active index cases, have neither positive diagnostic tests nor display clinical symptoms. We also compared persistent to resolved sarcoidosis. This led to the identification of novel HLA associations and evidence of main effects and interaction effects. We found strikingly similar main effects and interaction effects at HLA-DRB1, -DQB1, and -DPB1 in those resistant to tuberculosis (either latent or active) and persistent sarcoidosis.

Keywords: HLA; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; epistasis; nearest-neighbor feature selection; resistance to infection; sarcoidosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / genetics
  • Sarcoidosis* / genetics
  • Tuberculosis* / genetics


  • HLA-DRB1 Chains