Patients with U1-nRNP antibodies (n = 35, 31 female, four male) were typed for HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DR antigens and IgG heavy chain allotypes G1m(1), -(2), -(3), G3m(5), and -(21). The patient group was clinically heterogeneous. Four met the American Rheumatism Association criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus, six for progressive scleroderma, and 14 for rheumatoid arthritis. Sicca syndrome was present in seven cases. Twenty three had overlapping features compatible with mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD). Healthy blood donors served as controls for HLA typing (n = 64), Gm typing (n = 228), or both (n = 56). Sixty six per cent of the patients with U1-nRNP antibodies were DR4 positive compared with 28% of the controls (relative risk = 4.9, p = 0.00053). The Gm(1,3;5,21) phenotype was found in 46% of the patients and 25% of the controls (relative risk = 2.47, p = 0.0247). Within the patient group Gm(1,3;5,21) was found only in DR4 positive individuals. The coincidence of HLA-DR4 and Gm(1,3;5,21) increases the relative risk values to 8.0 (compared with the group with neither risk factor). DR4 and Gm(1,3;5,21) primarily seem to be related to U1-nRNP antibody formation and not to disease expression. Patients with or without MCTD did not differ with respect to DR4 or Gm(1,3;5,21) frequency. Disease onset was earlier in patients with HLA-DR4/Gm(1,3;5,21) than in patients without both markers (mean 27.9 v 40.1 years; p less than 0.05).
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