Objectives: Some rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients lack RA-associated HLA alleles. Prior studies investigated non-inherited maternal HLA alleles (NIMA) in RA risk with conflicting results.
Methods: We examined NIMA in a large cohort of families from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium.
Results Among 620 patients with one or both parents HLA-genotyped, RA patients informative for analysis included 176 without HLA-DRB1*04 and 86 without the HLA shared epitope (SE). The frequency of NIMA encoding HLA-DR4 or the SE was compared to the non-inherited paternal allele (NIPA). DR4-encoding NIMA vs. NIPA revealed no significant difference (27% vs. 20%). However, parity is known to modulate RA risk and analyses stratified by sex and age of onset showed significant variation among women. Interestingly, among women with onset <45 years DR4-encoding NIMA was increased compared to NIPA; among women >45 years at onset the reverse was observed (31% vs. 16% compared to 10% vs. 60%, p=0.008). DR4 encoding NIMA vs. NIPA did not differ in men. The SE did not differ in men or women.
Conclusions: Risk of RA was associated with HLA-DR4 encoding NIMA in younger-onset women but not in older-onset women or men. These observations could help explain conflicting prior results of NIMA in RA.