Objective: The relationship between human leukocyte antigens class II (HLA) and antinuclear antibodies
was investigated in Jamaican patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Samples of blood of 82 patients with SLE and 75 healthy controls were tested for antinuclear antibodies using the fluorescent antinuclear antibody (FANA) test, counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIEP) and the Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence test (CL-IFT). A DNA-based HLA typing method was used to determine the frequencies of alleles of HLA-DRB1, DRB3, DRB4 and DRB5 in patients and healthy controls.
Results: The FANA test was positive in all of the sera from patients with SLE. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were present in 49% (40/82), anti-Sm/RNP 44% (36/82) and anti-Ro/La 43% (35/82) of the sera from SLE patients. The frequency of HLA-DR4 was significantly lower in SLE patients than in healthy controls (2/82, 2% vs 15/75, 20%; RR = 0.12; p = 0.0004; CP = 0.005) but no other HLA-DRB1 SLE associations were found. A positive HLA-DR3 anti-Ro/La antibody association was found in the patients with SLE (9/21, 43% vs 5/55, 9%; odds ratio (OR) = 7.5; CP = 0.01). In contrast, possession of HLA-DR6 was negatively associated with the absence of anti-dsDNA antibodies (9/32, 28% vs 27/44, 61%; OR = 0.2; CP = 0.05).
Conclusion: The HLA-DR6 allele is associated with the absence of antinuclear antibodies and HLADR3 with the presence of anti-Ro/La antibodies in Jamaican patients with SLE. However, these results and those of previous studies of Jamaican patients suggest that the HLA-DR3 association with the development of SLE reported in other populations might in fact reflect the association of HLA-DR3 with anti-Ro/La antibodies. Further investigations are needed to determine whether HLA-DRB antinuclear antibody associations define clinical subsets of SLE in Jamaican patients.