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Ann Rheum Dis. 2002 Apr;61(4):351-3.

Influence of HLA polymorphism on persistent remission in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Several studies have reported an association between the presence of the shared epitope (SE) and susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent studies have shown that certain HLA-DRB1 alleles in combination with predisposing DQB1 and DQA1 alleles may protect against the development of RA. This model is known as the rheumatoid arthritis protection (RAP) hypothesis.


To determine the distribution of HLA-DRB1 and DQB1/DQA1 alleles in a cohort of patients with RA in remission and to determine the association between these HLA alleles and the persistence of remission.


HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 typings were performed in 167 patients with RA in remission, defined according to the American College of Rheumatology criteria. The disease course, as defined by the persistence of remission during a follow up of two years, was compared between subgroups. According to the RAP hypothesis patients were divided into three subgroups: patients carrying predisposing DQ alleles, patients carrying predisposing alleles in combination with protective alleles (DQ(RA+)/DERAA phenotype), and patients lacking the predisposing alleles. According to the SE hypothesis, patients were divided into three subgroups based on whether they were carrying two, one, or no predisposing alleles (SE alleles).


Predisposing DQ alleles along with a DERAA-bearing allele were present in 14 (8%) of the 167 patients. At least one SE allele was present in 116 (69%) patients; 34 of them (20%) were carrying two copies. The disease course was not significantly different between the subgroups according to the SE and RAP hypothesis, respectively.


The frequency of DQ(RA+)/DERAA combinations and of SE alleles in patients with RA clinically in remission was similar to that found in other RA populations. Persistent remission of RA was not associated with any particular HLA subtypes, indicating that HLA typing is not useful for predicting persistent clinical remission.

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