HLA Class II genes in soybean epidemic asthma patients

Joan B. Soriano, Guadalupe Ercilla, Jordi Sunyer, Francisco X. Real, Conxi Lázaro, María J. Rodrigo, Xavier P. Estivill, Josep Roca, Robert Rodríguez-Roisín, Ferran Morell, Josep M. Antó

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From 1981 to 1987, 26 outbreaks of asthma caused by the inhalation of soybean dust, affecting a total of 688 individuals, were detected in Barcelona, Spain. Because only a small proportion of asthmatic individuals living in Barcelona expressed the epidemic phenotype, it is hypothesized that a genetically determined human leukocyte antigen (HLA) Class II factor could have played a role in the susceptible individuals. Accordingly, we studied the distribution of both HLA-DR and HLA-DQ in soybean epidemic asthmatic patients. An analysis of the HLA-DR and HLA-DQ genes for genetic polymorphisms of the β1 chain was done with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 78 soybean epidemic asthma patients, and the findings were compared with those for 67 nonepidemic asthmatic individuals and 168 individuals from the general population. An allelic disequilibrium could be established; the risk of epidemic asthma was particularly associated with the DRB1*13 gene (p value corrected for multiple comparisons < 0.02). The association observed for the DRB1*13 gene was stronger in individuals in the lowest tertile for total IgE, with an estimated risk with a 95% confidence interval (CI), of 14.5 (1.6 to 130.8). The combination of two genes from among the DRB1 *05- 05, DRB1*05-06, and DRB1 *06-06 genes was present in epidemic asthmatic subjects only. No association with an HLA-DQB1 allele could be observed. Genetic predisposition could contribute to the response of some asthmatic patients to exposure to soybean dust, having led to their being affected during the epidemics of asthma in Barcelona.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1394-1398
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

Cite this

Soriano, J. B., Ercilla, G., Sunyer, J., Real, F. X., Lázaro, C., Rodrigo, M. J., Estivill, X. P., Roca, J., Rodríguez-Roisín, R., Morell, F., & Antó, J. M. (1997). HLA Class II genes in soybean epidemic asthma patients. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 156(5), 1394-1398.