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23-02-2006 | Thyroid | Article

HLA-C allele may protect against goiters


Free abstract

Spanish researchers suggest that the major histocompatibility complex (HLA)-Cw4 allele may protect against the development of multinodular goiter (MG).

This suggestion emerges from study findings that revealed an association between a lower incidence of the HLA-Cw4 allele and the appearance of MG.

Antonio Ríos and colleagues, from the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Arrixaca, in Murcia, explain in the Archives of Surgery that the relationship between certain autoimmune thyroid diseases and HLA alleles has been described previously, but results from serological techniques to confirm these findings/allow further investigation/enable clinical application are poor.

But recent development of molecular biological techniques has enabled a more reliable way of detecting these antigens. The team therefore conducted genotyping for MG alleles among 90 patients who were undergoing surgery for MG, and 100 healthy volunteers.

There was a significantly lower incidence of the HLA-Cw4 allele among patients with MG than among control participants, with rates at 8.3% versus 15.5%, respectively.

"These results suggest that the HLA-Cw4 allele can exert a protective effect against MG," the researchers note.

Further analysis of specific clinical variables showed that patients who had goiters with an intrathoracic component or that weighed more than 200g were the most likely to be missing the HLA-Cw4 allele, with relative risk (RR) values at 0.19 and 0.17, respectively.

Individuals without MG who had a family history of thyroid pathological abnormalities were also more likely to be missing the HLA-Cw4 allele, with an RR of 3.91.

"The HLA-Cw4 allele can act as a protector against the development of MG, as it occurs less frequently in the population with MG, and those with this allele develop smaller goiters with no intrathoracic component," Ríos and co-workers conclude.