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J Clin Invest. 1990 Aug;86(2):392-9.

HLA antigens in Japanese patients with myasthenia gravis.

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Blood Transfusion Service, Tokyo University Hospital, Hongo, Japan.


HLA antigens in 104 Japanese patients and 41 families with myasthenia gravis (MG) were investigated. The frequencies of DR9 and DRw13 were significantly increased in the patients who developed MG before 3 yr of age. The DQw3 antigen was positive for all the patients that developed MG before 15 yr with only one exception. All the examined cases that developed MG before 3 yr (including this DQw3 negative patient) had the same DQA and DQB DNA restriction fragments. These HLA frequencies decreased as the age of onset increased, and no significant association was observed in adult-onset MG. No patients had B8, DR3, and DQw2. The relative risk was higher for the DR9/DRw13 heterozygotes (37.4) than for DR9 (16.4) or DRw13 (7.1) in the childhood-onset MG. Statistical analysis suggested that DR9 and DRw13 (or DQw1 and DQw3) act synergistically in the disease development. Family study revealed diverse DR9 haplotypes. The most frequent DRw13 haplotype was Bw44-BFF-C4A3B1-DRw13-DQw1, which may be evolutionarily related to the caucasian B8-DR3-DQw2 haplotype. These results showed that MG in early childhood in Japanese individuals is genetically different from that in adulthood and that in caucasians.

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