AluyMICB dimorphism within the class I region of the major histocompatibility complex is associated with asthma and airflow obstruction in the Busselton population


Jennie Hui, Molecular Biology, J Block, QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. E-mail:


Aim To examine the association between the Alu dimorphism within the first intron of the MICB gene and asthma and airflow obstruction.

Background The highly polymorphic non-classical MHC class I polypeptide-related (MIC) genes, MICA and MICB, encode stress inducible glycoproteins, which are expressed on a variety of epithelial cells, including those of the lungs.

Methods AluyMICB genotyping was performed on 1109 subjects from the Busselton Health Study. From a standard questionnaire, 359 individuals indicated that they had been diagnosed by a doctor with asthma. Lung function was assessed by the forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1) and expressed as a percent of the predicted value. Airflow obstruction was defined as FEV1<80% predicted.

Results In men, a dominant relationship was found between the AluyMICB DD genotype and asthma (P=0.006; χ22=7.65). Furthermore, multivariate analysis adjusted for age, height, weight and body mass index (BMI) showed a relationship between DD genotype and asthma in men in a dominant model (odds ratio (OR)=1.97; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.11–3.51; P=0.021). In women, an association was found between the AluyMICB II genotype and FEV1 percent predicted as a continuous variable (P=0.001). When adjusted for age and BMI, it showed a significant relationship between AluyMICB and airflow obstruction in a dominant model (OR=14.11%, 95% CI 3.29–60.57, P<0.001). However, no association was found between the AluyMICB II genotypes and airflow obstruction in men.

Conclusion These findings suggest the possible involvement of a MHC class I gene in abnormal airway structure in women and airway function in men.