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OBJECTIVE: Human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) are widely expressed cell surface molecules that present antigenic peptides to T lymphocytes and modulate immune response against inflammatory and malignant diseases. The aim of this study was to compare HLA distribution in patients with newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas (HGGs) and 2 control groups from a restricted geographic area (eastern Sicily).

METHODS: HLA allele frequency, as determined from peripheral blood of 56 adult patients with HGGs, was compared with that of 2 different control groups: 140 healthy bone marrow donors (group A) and 69 virtually brain tumor-free patients (group B). HLA expression was evaluated using a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction-sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe.

RESULTS: There was significant expression of HLA-A*11 in patients with HGGs compared with control groups A and B (P < 0.003 and P < 0.018, respectively). Significant expression of HLA genotypes in patients with HGGs was also identified for HLA-DQB1*06 (P = 0.005), HLA-DRB1*14 (P = 0.001), and HLA-DRB3*01 (P = 0.007) compared with control group B. In HGG patients, there was statistically significantly decreased expression, compared with control groups A and B, of HLA-B*07 (P = 0.002 and P = 0.03, respectively) and HLA-C*04 (P = 0.007 and P = 0.016, respectively). There was statistically significant lower expression of HLA-C*05 in the HGG group compared with group B (P < 0.03).

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to describe the frequency of distribution of HLAs in a population from a restricted geographic area. The findings suggest a possible correlation between HLA allele distribution and the occurrence of newly diagnosed malignant astroglial brain tumors.

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