Recently, a genome-wide association study for ulcerative colitis (UC) in the UK population was reported, and several susceptibility loci including the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region were identified. The strongest association in the HLA region was found at a 400 kb haplotype block containing HLA-DRB1. In Japanese population, previous study suggested the association between UC and HLA-B*52; however, HLA typing was determined using serotyping with the small sample size. The purpose of this study was to perform an association study in HLA-B by genotyping. A total of 320 patients with UC and 322 healthy controls were recruited in this case-control study. All subjects were Japanese. Genotyping of HLA-B was performed by polymerase chain reaction using a sequence-specific primer. When the allele frequencies were compared, significant associations were found with B*52 [odds ratio (OR) = 3.65, P = 1.6 × 10-17, Pc = 3.7 × 10-16] and B*4002 (OR = 0.52, P = 0.00030, Pc = 0.0068). The allele frequency of B*52 was significantly higher in patients diagnosed before 40 years of age than in those diagnosed after 40 years (OR = 1.79, P = 0.010, Pc = 0.020). A combination association map of Japanese UC using our current and previous studies showed two equal peaks of association on HLA-DRB1 and HLA-B, indicating the possible existence of two casual variants in the HLA region inside and outside the 400 kb block found in UK. We conclude that HLA-B contributes to the susceptibility to Japanese UC, especially cases with younger age of onset. The strength of association for HLA-B was equal to that for HLA-DRB1 in Japanese UC, in contrast to the UK population.
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