• Vernal keratoconjunctivitis;
  • human leukocyte antigens;
  • autoantibodies;
  • immune disease;
  • children


The purpose of this study was to test for detectable serum levels of antibodies usually associated with immune-related diseases in children with Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) and seek for their family history of allergies and autoimmune disorders. The association of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) with VKC was also investigated. We enrolled 181 VKC children and assessed total and specific IgE, antithyroglobulin (AbTG), antithyroidperoxidase (AbTPO), antitransglutaminase (tTG), and antinuclear antibodies (ANA) by standard procedures. Class I and II HLA typing was also carried out following standard protocols, and it was compared with that of healthy subjects. Patients were positive for AbTG (22%), AbTPO (14.6%), and ANA (15.8%), and AbTG positivity was associated with VKC severity (mean ocular score ± SD positive vs. negative: 6.56 ± 2.1 vs. 4.82 ± 2.1; p = 0.03). We found that 12.2% of VKC cases had a positive family history for psoriasis, 6.4% for other cases of VKC, and 5.2% for thyroiditis, while 50.2% of them were atopic. The expression of HLA class I B37 was significantly higher in VKC patients than in controls (7.1% vs. 2.1%, p = 0.04), although not confirmed after multiple antigens testing analysis. Our study suggests a role of common components associated with immune-based diseases in the clinical expression of VKC.