To confirm and refine associations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes with variable antibody (Ab) responses to hepatitis B vaccination, we have analyzed 255 HIV-1 seropositive (HIV+) youth and 80 HIV-1 seronegatives (HIV−) enrolled into prospective studies. In univariate analyses that focused on HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 alleles and haplotypes, the DRB1*03 allele group and DRB1*0701 were negatively associated with the responder phenotype (serum Ab concentration ≥ 10 mIU/mL) (P = 0.026 and 0.043, respectively). Collectively, DRB1*03 and DRB1*0701 were found in 42 (53.8%) out of 78 non-responders (serum Ab <10 mIU/mL), 65 (40.6%) out of 160 medium responders (serum Ab 10–1,000 mIU/mL), and 27 (27.8%) out of 97 high responders (serum Ab >1,000 mIU/mL) (P < 0.001 for trend). Meanwhile, DRB1*08 was positively associated with the responder phenotype (P = 0.010), mostly due to DRB1*0804 (P = 0.008). These immunogenetic relationships were all independent of non-genetic factors, including HIV-1 infection status and immunodeficiency. Alternative analyses confined to HIV+ youth or Hispanic youth led to similar findings. In contrast, analyses of more than 80 non-coding, single nucleotide polymorphisms within and beyond the three HLA class II genes revealed no clear associations. Overall, several HLA-DRB1 alleles were major predictors of differential Ab responses to hepatitis B vaccination in youth, suggesting that T-helper cell-dependent pathways mediated through HLA class II antigen presentation are critical to effective immune response to recombinant vaccines.
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