Background Peanuts and tree nuts are among the most common foods provoking severe allergic reactions including fatal anaphylaxis. However, little is known of the underlying genetic and immunological mechanisms involved.
Objective Based on findings in other allergic diseases, we have investigated whether specific human leucocyte antigens (HLA) are associated with nut allergy.
Method Eighty-four patients presenting at the allergy clinic with symptoms of nut allergy were typed for the HLA Class I (HLA-A and B) and Class II (HLA-DRB1 and DQB1) loci by PCR using sequence-specific primers. Carriage frequencies were compared with 82 atopic non-nut-allergic subjects and 1798 random blood donors.
Results The frequency of HLA-B*07 (28.57%) and DRB1*11 (15.48%) was increased in the nut-allergic patients compared to the atopic controls (12.20% and 3.66%, respectively) but not when compared to the blood donors (28.86% and 10.12%). DRB1*13 and DQB1*06 were both increased in frequency in the nut allergy patients over both the atopic and blood donor controls. However, none of these increased frequencies were significant when corrected for the number of comparisons undertaken.
Conclusion At HLA ‘2-digit resolution’ and with undifferentiated patients with nut allergy, there are no major disturbances in the frequency of HLA-A, B, DRB1 or DQB1 types. However, the difference in frequency of HLA-DRB1*11 between the nut allergy patients and the atopic controls merits further investigation as this may represent an important phenotypic relationship.