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Keywords:

  • genetic association;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • human leukocyte antigen;
  • Shaanxi Chinese;
  • susceptibility

Abstract

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem worldwide. The mechanism of susceptibility to chronic persistent HBV infection is not well clarified, while the outcome of HBV infection mainly depends on the host immune response. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecule is an integral component of the immune response on which majority of host genetic studies have concentrated. Many different HLA class II alleles have been demonstrated to play roles in HBV infection. In this study, the association between HBV infection and HLA-DRB1 alleles in Han individuals in northwestern China was studied for the first time. Two hundred and fifty Shaanxi Han individuals were categorized into three different groups: the HBV-infected patient group (n = 108), the spontaneously cleared control group (n = 108) and the unexposed group (n = 34). DRB1*04, DRB1*09, DRB1*12 and DRB1*15 were the most common genotypes in all the groups. The allele frequencies of HLA-DRB1*03 [10.6% of HBV-infected patients vs 3.7% of spontaneously cleared controls, odds ratios (OR) = 3.10, Pc = 0.008, P < 0.05] and HLA-DRB1*07 (17.6% of HBV-infected patients vs 9.3% of spontaneously cleared controls, Pc = 0.016, OR = 2.09, P < 0.05) were markedly higher in the HBV-infected group. But the allele frequencies of HLA-DRB1*15 (6.9% of HBV-infected patients vs 13.4% of spontaneously cleared controls Pc = 0.039, OR = 0.48, P < 0.05) were obviously lower than that of the spontaneously cleared controls. The above data indicate that HLA-DRB1*03 and HLA-DRB1*07 are related to susceptibility to chronic HBV infection, and DRB1*15 is negatively related to persistence to chronic HBV infection among people in northwestern China. Similar results were got for DRB1*03 and 15 alleles between the HBV-infected patients (n = 108) and 46 HBV seronegative spouses of the HBV patients, who were high-risk group for HBV infection. The above results suggest that host HLA class II gene is an important factor in determination of the outcome of HBV infection.