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Hum Reprod Update. 1999 Mar-Apr;5(2):103-7.

Studies of HLA, fertility and mate choice in a human isolate.

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Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, IL 60615, USA.


The role of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes in pregnancy and in human mate choice has been investigated in the Hutterites, an inbred population of European origins. High-resolution HLA haplotypes were defined by alleles at 16 loci in >1000 Hutterites. Prospective studies of pregnancy outcome previously demonstrated increased fetal loss rates among Hutterite couples matching for HLA-B antigens (P = 0.033) or for the entire 16-locus haplotype (P = 0.002). Among living children of couples matching for HLA-B or for the haplotype, there was a non-significant deficit of children who were heterozygous and compatible with the mother; the number of living children who were compatible and homozygous or incompatible and heterozygous was not different than expectations (HLA-B, P = 0.095; haplotype, P = 0.376). Mate choice among 411 couples was non-random with respect to the HLA haplotype, assessed by a variety of methods (P = 0.020 to <0.001). These combined data indicate a role for HLA region genes in both pregnancy outcome and mate choice, and suggest that selection acting on these genes occurs pre-conceptually as well as during pregnancy. This review outlines previously published studies on HLA, fertility and mate choice in the Hutterites.

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