What Is HLA?
Initiation of an immune response occurs when human leucocyte antigens (HLA) located at the cell surface present peptides to CD8+ cytotoxic lymphocytes and CD4+ T helper cells. The genes encoding these antigens are the most varied in humans and it is well established that an individual’s HLA profile determines their capacity to mount a protective immune response to a foreign protein. There are many thousands of different HLA types and thus the capacity to mount an immune response can be dramatically different between individuals within a cohort selected from a single population.
HLA is associated with an increasing number of diseases. Below lists a small number of these and the associated HLA specificity. Screening for HLA genes can thus add confidence to a clinical diagnosis.
Disease HLA-Specificity | Gene
Autoimmune Chronic Hepatitis | HLA-DR3/4
Addison’s Disease | HLA-DR3
Ankylosing Spondylitis | HLA-B27
Birdshot Chorioretinopathy | HLA-A29
Coeliac Disease | HLA-DQ2
Diabetes Mellitus, Type I | HLA-DR3/4;DQ2/8
Graves Disease | HLA-DR3
Hemochromatosis | HLA-A3
Multiple Sclerosis | HLA-DR15
Narcolepsy | HLA-DR15 / DQB1*0602
Post Infectious Arthritis | HLA-B27
Rheumatoid Arthritis | HLA-DR1, DR4
Psoriasis Vulgaris | HLA-Cw6
Reiter’s Syndrome | HLA-B27
Allergy & Drug Hypersensitivity
HLA is emerging to have a role in certain allergies and hypersensitivity. Below lists some examples.
Allergy / Hypersensitivity HLA-Specificity | Gene
Coeliac Disease | HLA-DQ2, DQ8
Peanut Allergy | HLA-DR8
Atopy | HLA-A1,B8,DR3
Abacavir | HLA-B*57:01
Carbamazepine | HLA-B*15:02
Heavy Metal Allergies | Various
Responsiveness / non-responsiveness to vaccination has been linked with HLA genetic heterogeneity in a number of studies.
HLA typing should be considered in the following situations:
Profiling of cohorts for clinical drug / vaccine trials
Profiling of cohorts for candidate allergen testing
Characterisation of cell lines used in investigations of immune function
Studies of population genetics
Investigations of identity / relatedness in genetic genealogy
Our HLA Typing Service
The service we offer extends from assistance in deciding the level of typing required by your project, through technical analysis of provided samples to post-analytical advice regarding data outputs.
All work will be carried out in our UK facility by professional scientific staff with a combined experience of more than 40 years in the field.
We can offer a range of turnaround times and are able to offer a very fast (48 hour) throughput depending on the number of samples and advance notification.
We participate in all relevant UK EQA schemes and maintain a good record of achievement within these. We are ISO 9001:2008 and UKAS certified and are currently pursuing CPA accreditation of our service. Our aim is to deliver a high confidence and responsive service to our clients at realistic cost.
Investigations are performed using DNA based technologies.
Dependent upon the needs of the investigation, determination of a HLA type can be based on analysis for a single antigen, providing a present/absent outcome or can be performed across several or all HLA A*, B*, C*, DRB1*, DRB3*, DRB4*, DRB5*, DQA1*, DQB1* DPA1* and DPB1* loci to deliver a more detailed and comprehensive report.
Typing can also be done at different levels of resolution.
We can additionally perform investigations of other polymorphic genetic systems including MICA and KIR typing and analysis of cytokine gene polymorphisms. We can also offer HLA antibody screening of serum samples.
The service is offered for R&D / non-diagnostic purposes only and results must not be utilised to inform patient management decisions. Working with our partner laboratories within the NHS, we can however arrange for diagnostic testing and would welcome enquiries about this.