An association between Graves' disease and the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system has previously been reported. The disease was more strongly associated with the HLA D locus antigen Dw3 than with HLA B8. Products of the HLA D locus are determined by the interaction of test cells with standard typing lymphocytes, a technically difficult procedure. Recently, it has been possible to type serologically for D locus related (DRw) specificities on peripheral bone marrow-derived (B) lymphocytes. Blood B lymphocytes from 50 unrelated controls and 41 patients with Graves' disease were typed for seven HLA DRw specificities. 28 patients with Graves' disease (68%) were positive for DRw3, in contrast to 14 controls (28%); whereas only 21 patients (50%) were HLA B8 positive, compared with 13 (26%) controls. Thus, positivity for DRw3 afforded a relative risk for Graves' disease of 5.5, whereas that for HLA B8 amounted to 3.0. Additionally, a family with multiple cases of Graves' disease in which the disease was previously shown to be inherited with the haplotype, was linked to DRw2, which suggests that the susceptibility to the disease was inherited in association with that antigen. Two HLA B/glyoxalase recombination events were observed in this family; in both instances HLA DRw followed HLA B. This study thus demonstrates that the disease susceptibility gene for Graves' disease is in strong linkage disequilibrium with DRw3; however, it may be associated with other DRw specificities and inherited within family units in association with them.
Nadir R. Farid, Laura Sampson, Elke P. Noel, John M. Barnard, Robert Mandeville, Bodil Larsen, William H. Marshall