Conformational equivalence hypothesis
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary This study of 110 seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients confirms the significant association of susceptibility to RA with HLA-DR4 specificity (P〈0.001). The DR1 frequency is elevated in the entire seropositive patient group, reaching marginal significance (P〈0.025). The DR4-negative patients, however, have a much higher prevalence of DR1 (P〈0.001). Surprisingly, the DRw6 specificity is significantly increased in the remaining DR4- and DR1-negative patients (P〈0.01). These results demonstrate that RA is not associated with a single HLA-specificity, but to various degrees with DR4, DR1, and DRw6. These findings, and particularly the newly recognized association with DRw6, support the hypothesis that functionally equivalent shared epitopes or conformations on otherwise distinct MHC molecules may confer risk for developing RA.
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