The aim of this study was to elucidate the roles of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genes in disease susceptibility in Japanese adult patients with myasthenia gravis (MG). A number of studies have shown that MG is correlated with DR3 in Caucasians. In Japanese, infantile MG is associated with DR9, but the HLA class II alleles associated with adult MG remains unclear. HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 alleles were determined by genotyping in 75 Japanese adult patients with MG and in 115 race-matched healthy adults. No statistically significant difference was observed in the overall prevalences of DRB1 and DQB1 alleles between MG patients and healthy controls, even when the patients and controls were stratified on the basis of their gender. MG patients with DQB1*0604 were younger and those with DQB1*0402 were older at disease onset than those without (P=0.03 and 0.008, respectively). Concomitant autoimmune thyroid disease was associated with DRB1*0803 (P=0.0009, corrected P=0.04). In addition, anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody levels were significantly higher in patients with DQB1*0604 than in those without (P=0.045). These findings indicate that immunogenetic backgrounds in Japanese adult MG patients are heterogeneous and are apparently different from those in Caucasian patients.
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