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HLA Markers and Disease Association

Dr. med. Kaimo Hirv

Scientific Background

More than 30 diseases have been associated with certain HLA alleles that may indicate a predisposition to the disease. These diseases are essentially autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematodes (SLE), ankylosing spondylitis (Bechterew's disease), multiple sclerosis (MS) or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) as well as rheumatic diseases. Twin studies showed that environmental factors play an important role regarding the manifestation of the diseases, so in predisposed individuals from affected families the diseases occur sporadically. The occurrence of reactive arthritis (Reiter's syndrome) after intestinal infection with gram-negative bacteria (shigella, salmonella, yersinia) for example, has been associated with the HLA-B27 antigen in almost all cases; however, not all HLA-B27 carriers develop the Reiter's syndrome.