HLA genes and surnames show a similar genetic structure in Lombardy: Does this reflect part of the history of the region?



Lombardy, in northern Italy, is the most populated and industrialized Italian region. We attempt to study its genetic structure with two independent sets of data: HLA allele frequencies and surnames. According to our results, it is plausible to deduce that ancient history, more than genetic isolation and drift, may have contributed to the present genetic structure of Lombardy. The hypothesis seems to be confirmed by the results of the cluster analysis of the 11 provinces of the region, which was performed using two different types of markers. Both genes and surnames show approximately the same structure. Not only Celts but also ancient Ligurians (and Etruscans) probably shaped the region into the present three clusters in which the 11 provinces appear to be genetically structured. In particular, an ancient historic, archaeological, and linguistic boundary, along the Adda River, seems to be preserved in present-day Lombardy's population structure.Am. J.Hum. Biol. 19:311–318, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.