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OBJECTIVE: To determine the influence of HLA-B27 homozygosity and HLA-DRB1 alleles in the susceptibility to, and severity of, ankylosing spondylitis in a Finnish population. METHODS: 673 individuals from 261 families with ankylosing spondylitis were genotyped for HLA-DRB1 alleles and HLA-B27 heterozygosity/homozygosity. The frequencies of HLA-B27 homozygotes in probands from these families were compared with the expected number of HLA-B27 homozygotes in controls under Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE). The effect of HLA-DRB1 alleles was assessed using a logistic regression procedure conditioned on HLA-B27 and case-control analysis. RESULTS: HLA-B27 was detected in 93% of cases of ankylosing spondylitis. An overrepresentation of HLA-B27 homozygotes was noted in ankylosing spondylitis (11%) compared with the expected number of HLA-B27 homozygotes under HWE (4%) (odds ratio (OR) = 3.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.6 to 6.8), p = 0.002). HLA-B27 homozygosity was marginally associated with reduced BASDAI (HLA-B27 homozygotes, 4.5 (1.6); HLA-B27 heterozygotes, 5.4 (1.8) (mean (SD)), p = 0.05). Acute anterior uveitis (AAU) was present in significantly more HLA-B27 positive cases (50%) than HLA-B27 negative cases (16%) (OR = 5.4 (1.7 to 17), p<0.004). HLA-B27 positive cases had a lower average age of symptom onset (26.7 (8.0) years) compared with HLA-B27 negative cases (35.7 (11.2) years) (p<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: HLA-B27 homozygosity is associated with a moderately increased risk of ankylosing spondylitis compared with HLA-B27 heterozygosity. HLA-B27 positive cases had an earlier age of onset of ankylosing spondylitis than HLA-B27 negative cases and were more likely to develop AAU. HLA-DRB1 alleles may influence the age of symptom onset of ankylosing spondylitis.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Rheum Dis

Publication Date





775 - 780


Adult, Alleles, Case-Control Studies, Female, Finland, Gene Frequency, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, HLA-B27 Antigen, HLA-DR Antigens, HLA-DRB1 Chains, Haplotypes, Histocompatibility Testing, Homozygote, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Assessment, Spondylitis, Ankylosing