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Hum Immunol. 1998 Dec;59(12):794-801.

Combinations of HLA DR and DQ molecules determine the susceptibility to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Koreans.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


The association of HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 genes with IDDM in Koreans was assessed using 115 IDDM patients and 140 nondiabetic controls. DQB1*0201 is the only DQB1 allele positively associated with IDDM while DQB*0602, *0601 and *0301 are negatively associated. Three DRB1 alleles (DRB1*0301, DRB1*0407 and DRB1*0901) are positively associated while four DR allele groups (DRB1*15, DRB1*12, DRB1*10 and DRB1*14) are negatively associated. However, Haplotype analyses indicated that DQB1*0302, DRB1*0405 and DRB1*0401 may confer susceptibility because the DRB1*0405-DQB*0302 and DRB1*0401-DQB1*0302 haplotypes are positively associated with the disease. The lack of association in Koreans with the DQB1*0302 allele, which appears predisposing in studies of non-Orientals, is due to its strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the protective DRB1*0403 and *0406 alleles, while the lack of association with DRB1*0405 is because of its strong LD with the protective DQB1*0401 allele. Nine DR/DQ genotypes confer significantly increased risk to IDDM. Seven of the nine genotypes (DR3/4s, DR1/4s, DR4s/13, DR4s/8, DR4s/7, DR9/13 and DR3/9) were also found to be at high risk to IDDM in other populations, while the two others (DR1/9 and DR9/9) are only found in Koreans. Surprisingly, DR4/4 homozygotes are not associated with high risk to IDDM in Koreans. This observation can be explained by the high frequency of protective DR4 subtypes and the protective DQ alleles (0301 and 0401) associated with the susceptible DR4 alleles. Our analyses indicate that the counterbalancing act between susceptible DRB1 and protective DQB1, and vice versa, that has already been observed in Chinese and Japanese, is the major factor responsible for the low incidence of diabetes in Koreans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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