Interaction of HLA-DRB1*09:01 and *04:05 with smoking suggests distinctive mechanisms of rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility beyond the shared epitope

So-Young Bang, Hye-Soon Lee, Kyung Wha Lee, Sang-Cheol Bae
Journal of Rheumatology 2013, 40 (7): 1054-62

OBJECTIVE: Although HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles and HLA-DRB1*09:01 have repeatedly been shown to be associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the effect of each allele on levels of anticyclic citrullinated peptide autoantibodies (anti-CCP) and interaction with cigarette smoking in RA remains to be fully defined. We investigated whether HLA-DRB1 risk alleles influence anti-CCP levels and whether each allele interacts with smoking in anti-CCP-positive or -negative RA.

METHODS: All patients with RA (n = 1924) and controls (n = 1119) were Korean. The HLA-DRB1 4-digit genotyping was performed by standard PCR-sequencing based typing method. OR and biologic interactions as departures from additivity or multiplicity were analyzed by logistic regression.

RESULTS: SE alleles were significantly associated with increased anti-CCP levels. Conversely, HLA-DRB1*09:01 was associated with reduced levels, in both SE-positive and SE-negative patients. Each of SE alleles interacted significantly with smoking, whereas HLA-DRB1*09:01 did not. Interactions between the 2 most significant risk alleles, HLA-DRB1*04:05 and HLA-DRB1*09:01, (attributable proportion = 0.68, 95% CI 0.46-0.89, multiplicity p = 0.012) significantly increased RA susceptibility regardless of anti-CCP and smoking status. Smoking increased the risk for RA by significant interaction with the heterozygote HLA-DRB1*04:05/*09:01.

CONCLUSION: HLA-DRB1*09:01 differs from SE alleles with regard to anti-CCP levels and interaction with smoking, suggesting a distinct mechanism of HLA-DRB1*09:01 in the pathogenesis of RA that may bypass anti-CCP formation. Also, a significant increase of the HLA-DRB1*04:05/ *09:01 heterozygote in RA susceptibility may be attributable to the synergistic contribution of 2 different pathways in which 2 alleles participate independently.

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