A study of HLA-DR antigen in 75 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis has been carried out in order to test the hypothesis that genetic factors related to genes controlling immune responses might be important in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis. The frequencies of HLA-DR locus antigens was not significantly different from those in 200 normal controls, nor were those of tissue antigens on the A and B loci. No HLA-DR antigen was significantly associated with the appearance of granulomata on liver biopsy (possibly good prognosis) or with raised serum bilirubin (possibly bad prognosis); nor was there any association between any HLA-DR antigen and adverse reactions to D-penicillamine treatment in 17 patients with such adverse reactions. It is concluded that genetic traits related to HLA antigens studied are probably not important in the aetiology of the disease.
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