Background: As of May 1, 1995, the National Marrow Donor Program had a donor registry consisting of over 1.35 million HLA-typed volunteers recruited from most major cities and states in the United States. This registry represents the largest single HLA-typed pool of normal individuals in the world.
Methods: We analyzed the HLA-A, -B, -DR locus phenotypes of the National Marrow Donor Program donors in order to estimate gene and haplotype frequencies for major racial groups of the United States: Caucasian American, Asian American, African American, Latin American, and Native American. The large size of the database allowed us to calculate the frequencies of relatively rare antigens and haplotypes with more accuracy than previous studies.
Results: We observed 89,522 distinguishable HLA-A, -B phenotypes in 1,351,260 HLA-A, -B-typed donors and 302,867 distinguishable HLA-A, -B, -DR phenotypes in 406,503 HLA-A, -B, -DR-typed donors. Gene and haplotype frequencies differed remarkably among the five racial groups, with African Americans and Asian Americans having a large number of haplotypes that were specific to their racial groups, whereas Caucasian Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans shared a number of common haplotypes.
Conclusions: These data represent an important resource for investigators in the fields of transplantation and population genetics. The gene and haplotype frequencies can be used to aid clinicians in advising patients about the probability of finding a match within a specific ethnic group, or to determine donor recruitment goals and strategies. The information is also a valuable resource for individuals who are interested in population genetics, selection and evolution of polymorphic human genes, and HLA-disease association.