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Immunity. 2008 Jun;28(6):822-32. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.04.020.

Human leukocyte antigen class I-restricted activation of CD8+ T cells provides the immunogenetic basis of a systemic drug hypersensitivity.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Immunity. 2008 Jul;29(1):165.


The basis for strong immunogenetic associations between particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I allotypes and inflammatory conditions like Beh├žet's disease (HLA-B51) and ankylosing spondylitis (HLA-B27) remain mysterious. Recently, however, even stronger HLA associations are reported in drug hypersensitivities to the reverse-transcriptase inhibitor abacavir (HLA-B57), the gout prophylactic allopurinol (HLA-B58), and the antiepileptic carbamazepine (HLA-B*1502), providing a defined disease trigger and suggesting a general mechanism for these associations. We show that systemic reactions to abacavir were driven by drug-specific activation of cytokine-producing, cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. Recognition of abacavir required the transporter associated with antigen presentation and tapasin, was fixation sensitive, and was uniquely restricted by HLA-B*5701 and not closely related HLA allotypes with polymorphisms in the antigen-binding cleft. Hence, the strong association of HLA-B*5701 with abacavir hypersensitivity reflects specificity through creation of a unique ligand as well as HLA-restricted antigen presentation, suggesting a basis for the strong HLA class I-association with certain inflammatory disorders.

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