Human leukocyte antigen type and progression from onset of symptoms to development of asthma.
This study investigated the influence of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes on the progression of asthma, from the initial onset of symptoms to when criteria for asthma are met. Study subjects were a subsample (n = 340) of 838 healthy children, aged 5-12 years, who participated in a previous study, and who had HLA data and asthma status. The duration in time from the initial onset of asthma symptoms documented in each subject's medical records to the index date when the subject first met criteria for asthma was determined. The time duration was compared between carriers and noncarriers of HLA genes of interest of the 340 original subjects with HLA data available, 114 children (33.5%) met criteria for asthma before 18 years of age. The median ages at onset of asthma symptoms and at the index date of asthma were 4.4 years and 7.2 years, respectively. The median time intervals between onset of symptoms and index date for HLA DRB1*11 carriers and noncarriers were 552 versus 61 days, respectively (p = 0.004). The same time intervals for HLA DQB1*0301 carriers and noncarriers were 420 versus 59 days, respectively (p = 0.012). However, HLA DQB1*0302 or DRB1*03 carriers had shorter median intervals, when compared with noncarriers (119 versus 266 days, respectively, p = 0.20; and 86 versus 258 days, respectively, p = 0.38) but they did not reach statistical significance. HLA type appears to influence the progression of asthma from initial symptoms to disease. Thus, genetic factors may affect the natural history of asthma.