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Int J Immunogenet. 2014 Aug;41(4):277-80. doi: 10.1111/iji.12122. Epub 2014 Apr 25.

External quality assessment of patient HLA-B*57:01 testing prior to abacavir prescription.

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Welsh Transplantation and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Welsh Blood Service, United Kingdom National External Quality Assessment Service for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, Pontyclun, UK.


Hypersensitivity reactions to the drug abacavir are strongly associated with possession of HLA-B*57:01. Hence, patients with HIV/AIDS who may be prescribed abacavir should be tested for this HLA allele and the drug withheld from those that possess B*57:01. The UK National External Quality Assessment Service for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics has operated a scheme for B*57:01 testing since 2008 which, in 2013, involved 47 participants from 12 countries. A total of 24 B*57:01-positive, 2 B*57:03-positive and 22 B*57-negative blood samples (including 2 B*58 samples) were distributed to between 28 and 47 laboratories each year over 6 years. Participants, who were unaware of the samples' HLA types, tested and reported on their B*57/B*57:01 status. A total of 1868 reports were assessed over the 6 years. Of the 880 reports on B*57:01 samples, 93.4% were correctly assigned as B*57:01, 2.8% were assigned as groups of B*57 alleles including B*57:01, and 3.3% were reported as B*57 positive only. Over the 6 years, there were four (0.46%) false B*57:01 negative reports. All the B*57:03-positive and B*57-negative samples, involving 72 and 916 assignments, respectively, were essentially reported as B*57:01 negative. Thus, there were no false B57:01 positive assignments. The reporting of B*57:01 status over the last 3 years of the scheme was 99.8% sensitive and 100% specific. Over the last year, it was 100% sensitive and 100% specific.

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