"Homozygosity" for the HLA-DR shared epitope contributes the highest risk for rheumatoid arthritis concordance in identical twins.
Jawaheer D., Thomson W., MacGregor AJ., Carthy D., Davidson J., Dyer PA., Silman AJ., Ollier WE.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the contribution of HLA-DRB1 alleles in determining rheumatoid arthritis (RA) concordance in monozygotic twins. METHODS: Ninety-one monozygotic twins pairs in which at least 1 twin was affected were typed for HLA-DRB1 using both serologic methods and polymerase chain reaction amplification with sequence-specific oligonucleotide hybridization. The role of DR4 and of the shared epitope in disease concordance was investigated. Relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals were determined. RESULTS: Increased concordance for RA was observed in both DR4 positive and shared epitope positive pairs (RR 3.4 and 3.7, respectively). A 5-fold risk for RA concordance was seen in twins who were "homozygous" for the shared epitope, compared with those negative for the shared epitope. CONCLUSION: In the absence of the shared epitope, RA concordance in monozygotic twins is rare. In contrast, "homozygosity" for the shared epitope is the most important factor in determining RA concordance.