Extensive studies in different ethnic groups have associated the susceptibility to development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with the third hypervariable region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) HLA-DRβl molecule. On the basis of recent findings in the experimental mouse model of collagen-induced arthritis. Eric Zanelli, Miguel Gonzalez-Gay and Chella David propose that the HLA-DRB1 locus is associated with protection to RA and that the actual arthritogenic peptide-presenting molecule is HLA-DQ. Thus, the development of RA would depend upon the expression of the susceptible DQ allele and the nonprotective DRB1 alleles, along with environmental factors that trigger the autoimmune process.
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