A major histocompatibility complex Class III allotype (C4B 2) associated with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)


Address: Dr J. M. Neuberger Queen Elizabeth Hospital Edgbaston Birmingham B15 7TH England


Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) is a female associated disease of unknown aetiology, although there is evidence of immunological abnormalities. There is no known cure; liver damage is progressive and eventually fatal, although transplantation can prevent patient death. Data presented here show, for the first time, a strong association in Caucasoids between PBC and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). 45% of patients studied, compared with only 17% in a control group, expressed an MHC Class III allotype C4B 2 (pc = 0.014). Polymorphisms of MHC Class I, Class II, and other Class III gene products which flank the C4 genes were not found to be associated with the disease. Although we cannot rule out the involvement of other loci linked to the C4B 2 complement gene, the data provide strong evidence that this genetic area is implicated in the pathogenesis of this disease.