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A major component of inherited susceptibility to IDDM is associated with one or more loci in the MHC. Identification of the primary susceptibility genes has been complicated by the low frequency of recombination, i.e. linkage disequilibrium, within the MHC. It is difficult to distinguish whether a detected genetic association with the disease is primary, or secondary due to linkage disequilibrium with an allele at another locus which is directly predisposing. During the evolution of different races, however, recombination within the MHC has occurred and population-specific MHC haplotypes exist. Primary susceptibility allels should be associated with disease in all racial groups, regardless of genetic background. It is unlikely that disease associations secondary to linkage disequilibrium will be consistent in these groups. This chapter reviews the known associations of candidate class II susceptibility alleles with IDDM in the five largest racial groups; white Caucasians, Asian Indians, Negroids, Japanese and Chinese. These trans-racial studies suggest that the DQ molecule has a primary role in predisposition to IDDM. There are consistent findings of a positive association with the DQA1*0301 allele and negative associations with the DQB1*0602 and DQB1*0603 alleles. These two alleles differ by a single codon and so the encoded DQ beta chains are likely to have similar functions. DR4-associated susceptibility is associated with the DQA1*0301 allele in all races tested so far but this allele cannot be the only susceptibility factor on this haplotype. The identity of the DR3-associated susceptibility factor remains unclear but the DQB1*0201 allele is a candidate. If DQB1*0201 is involved, the existence of a protective factor on the neutral DR7-DQB1*0201 haplotypes is indicated. Analysis of DR9 associated susceptibility implicates a non-DR/DQ predisposing factor.

Original publication




Journal article


Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab

Publication Date





321 - 340


African Continental Ancestry Group, Asian Continental Ancestry Group, Chromosome Mapping, Continental Population Groups, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, European Continental Ancestry Group, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, HLA-DQ Antigens, HLA-DQ alpha-Chains, HLA-DQ beta-Chains, HLA-DR Antigens, HLA-DR Serological Subtypes, HLA-DR3 Antigen, HLA-DR4 Antigen, Humans, Major Histocompatibility Complex