Objective: To determine the frequency of HLA class II antigens in Caucasian central European patients with relapsing polychondritis (RP).
Methods: HLA class I, DR, and DQ specificities were identified in 41 patients with RP, and the frequencies were compared with those in 204 healthy, unrelated control subjects. HLA typing was performed using the standard complement-dependent microcytotoxicity assay. HLA-DR genotyping of 12 DR4-positive RP patients and 57 controls was performed by allele-specific oligonucleotide probing after amplification of genomic DNA by polymerase chain reaction.
Results: A significant increase in DR4 antigen frequency was found in the patients (56.1%) as compared with that in healthy controls (25.5%) (Pcorr < 0.001). Genotyping of DR4-positive patients and controls revealed no predominance of any DR4 subtype.
Conclusion: There are important clinical similarities and overlaps between RP and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, the association with DR4 has been well established. Our findings show that although there is a DR4 association with RP, the situation is sufficiently distinct from that of RA to imply considerable differences in pathogenesis of the two conditions.