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Keywords:

  • genetics;
  • haemophilia;
  • inhibitors;
  • siblings;
  • twins

The issue of factors predisposing for inhibitor development in haemophilia patients is still largely unresolved. In an attempt to address this problem, we initiated a registry in 1996 of siblings with haemophilia and with or without a history of inhibitors. Four hundred and sixty families have accrued, of whom 388 suffer from haemophilia A and 72 haemophilia B. Twenty-five of the brother pairs are twins. The inhibitor incidence in all families with severe haemophilia A was 31.7%. The corresponding figure in the caucasian patients was 27.4%, whereas a higher incidence of inhibitors was reported in the black subjects (55.6%). Twins were reported in six of the 100 inhibitor families, for whom monozygocity was confirmed in three cases. In 32 families (32%), at least two brothers had a history of inhibitors. In 22 (69%) of these families, the inhibitor was also of the same type, i.e. either high- or low-responding. The overall concordance within the severe haemophilia A families was found to be 78.3% (195/249) compared to an expected figure of 68.0% and 58.0% using an inhibitor incidence of 20 and 30%, respectively (< 0.0001). The corresponding figure for the twins was 88.2% (15/17). Moreover, the risk for inhibitor development in families with a previous inhibitor history was found to be 48% (95% confidence interval [CI] 35–62%), whereas the risk in families with no previous known inhibitor was only 15% (95% CI 11–21%) corresponding to a relative risk of 3.2 (95% CI 2.1–4.9). Immune-tolerance induction was reported in 24 families, of whom 13 siblings were successfully treated. Our data clearly support the concept that a genetic predisposition for inhibitor development exists. However, the markers of this predisposition remain to be elucidated and we believe that the MIBS registry will be useful for this purpose.