Childhood asthma and human leukocyte antigen type

Author(s): Juhn YJ, Kita H, Lee LA, Smith RW, Bagniewski SM, et al.


Little is known about the relationship between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genes and family history of asthma or atopy in relation to the incidence of childhood asthma. The objective of the study was to determine whether specific HLA class II genes (e.g., DRB1*03) are associated with asthma and whether such association explains the influences of family history of asthma or atopy on asthma incidence. A stratified random sample of 340 children who had HLA data available from the Rochester Family Measles Study cohort (n= 876) and a convenience sample of healthy children aged 5-12 years were the participants. We conducted comprehensive medical record reviews to determine asthma status of these children. The associations between the presence of specific HLA alleles and development of asthma and the role of family history of asthma or atopy in the association were evaluated by fitting Cox models. The cumulative incidence of asthma by 12 years of age among children who carry HLA DRB1*03 was 33%, compared to 24.2% among those who did not carry this allele. Adjusting for family history of asthma or atopy, gender, low birth weight, season of birth, HLA DRB1*04, and HLA DQB1*0302, the hazards ratio for HLA DRB1*03 carriers was 1.8 (95% confidence interval: 1.1-2.9, P= 0.020). We concluded that the HLA DRB1*03 allele is associated with asthma. However, the HLA class II gene does not explain the influences of family history of asthma or atopy on development of asthma. The mechanism underlying the association between asthma and HLA genes needs to be elucidated.

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