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Tissue Antigens. 2004 Jul;64(1):25-34.

Involvement of the major histocompatibility complex region in the genetic regulation of circulating CD8 T-cell numbers in humans.

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Clinical Hematology, Santo António General Hospital, Porto, Portugal.


Variability in T-lymphocyte numbers is partially explained by a genetic regulation. From studies in animal models, it is known that the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is involved in this regulation. In humans, this has not been shown yet. The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that genes in the MHC region influence the regulation of T-lymphocyte numbers. Two approaches were used. Association studies between T-cell counts (CD4(+) and CD8(+)) or total lymphocyte counts and HLA class I alleles (A and B) or mutations in the HFE (C282Y and H63D), the hemochromatosis gene, in an unrelated population (n = 264). A second approach was a sibpair correlation analysis of the same T-cell counts in relation to HLA-HFE haplotypes in subjects belonging to 48 hemochromatosis families (n = 456 sibpairs). In the normal population, results showed a strong statistically significant association of the HLA-A*01 with high numbers of CD8(+) T cells and a less powerful association with the HLA-A*24 with low numbers of CD8(+) T cells. Sibpair correlations revealed the most significant correlation for CD8(+) T-cell numbers for sibpairs with HLA-HFE-identical haplotypes. This was not observed for CD4(+) T cells. These results show that the MHC region is involved in the genetic regulation of CD8(+) T-cell numbers in humans. Identification of genes responsible for this control may have important biological and clinical implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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