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Pigment Cell Res. 2006 Feb;19(1):51-7.

HLA class II haplotype DRB1*04-DQB1*0301 contributes to risk of familial generalized vitiligo and early disease onset.

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  • 1Human Medical Genetics Program, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Aurora, USA.


Generalized vitiligo is a common autoimmune disorder characterized by white patches of skin and overlying hair caused by loss of pigment-forming melanocytes from involved areas. Familial clustering of vitiligo is not uncommon, and patients and their relatives are at increased risk for a specific complex of other autoimmune diseases. Compared with sporadic vitiligo, familial vitiligo is characterized by earlier disease onset and greater risk and broader repertoire of autoimmunity, suggesting a stronger genetic component, and perhaps stronger associations with specific alleles. To determine whether the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) contributes to the familial clustering of vitiligo and vitiligo-associated autoimmune/autoinflammatory diseases, we performed case-control and family-based association analyses of HLA class II-DRB1 and -DQB1 alleles and haplotypes in affected probands and their parents from 76 European-American Caucasian families with familial vitiligo. Affected probands showed a significantly increased frequency of DRB1*04-DQB1*0301 and a significantly decreased frequency of DRB1*15-DQB1*0602 compared with a large sample of reference chromosomes. Family-based association analyses confirmed these results. Probands with DRB1*04-DQB1*0301 developed vitiligo an average of 13.32 yr earlier than probands with DRB1*15-DQB1*0602. Overall, our results indicate that specific MHC-linked genetic variation contributes to risk of familial vitiligo, although HLA does not completely explain familial clustering of vitiligo-associated autoimmune/autoinflammatory diseases.

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