OBJECTIVE--To study the role of the HLA system in the genetic susceptibility to familial systemic sclerosis (SSc). METHODS--HLA class I antigens were determined by classic serological methods and HLA-DRB, -DQA and -DQB genes were analysed by genetic typing in 36 individuals belonging to two families with several individuals affected by SSc. RESULTS--The results did not show any association of the inheritance to SSc with any particular HLA allele in these families but revealed a striking frequency of ANA autoantibodies in healthy spouses of the members of these families. CONCLUSION--The otherwise infrequent familial incidence of SSc does not appear to be primarily linked to the HLA system in this study but it is suggested that other unknown exogenous environmental factors could be implicated in the development of the disease in families.
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