OBJECTIVES--To determine HLA-DR4 and DR1 allele frequencies in a series of patients with newly diagnosed early inflammatory arthritis. METHODS--HLA-DR1 and DR4 frequencies were determined by oligonucleotide typing of 208 patients classified as having either rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or undifferentiated inflammatory polyarthritis. RESULTS--The frequency of occurrence of DR4 in these patients with RA did not differ significantly from that in controls in the United Kingdom (42 v 37%). HLA-DR1 was increased in the group with inflammatory polyarthritis (25 v 18%). CONCLUSIONS--The frequency of DR4 is not increased in newly diagnosed community based patients with RA. This supports the hypothesis that DR4 is less important as a marker for susceptibility to RA than it is for disease persistence or severity.
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