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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 27, 2024  4 weeks, 1 day, 50 minutes ago

COVID-19 News: Romanian Study Finds That HLA-B Alleles B*27 And B*50 Are Associated As Risk Factors For COVID-19 Severity!

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COVID-19 News: Romanian Study Finds That HLA-B Alleles B*27 And B*50 Are Associated As Risk Factors For COVID-19 Severity!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 27, 2024  4 weeks, 1 day, 50 minutes ago
COVID-19 News: As the global community grapples with the multifaceted challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers worldwide are tirelessly working to unravel the intricate genetic factors that influence the severity of the disease. In a groundbreaking study conducted by the “Iuliu Hațieganu” University of Medicine in Romania, a team of researchers, in collaboration with various medical institutions, delved into the role of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in shaping the clinical outcomes of COVID-19. The findings covered in this COVID-19 News article shed light on specific HLA alleles and haplotypes associated with increased susceptibility or protection against severe forms of the disease. This comprehensive examination not only contributes to the growing body of knowledge on COVID-19 but also holds promise for the development of targeted interventions, personalized treatments, and informed vaccination strategies.

HLA-B Alleles B27 And B50 Are Associated As Risk Factors For COVID-19 Severity!

The Landscape of COVID-19 Severity
The COVID-19 pandemic, officially declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, has posed unprecedented challenges globally. Caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the disease manifests with a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, with potentially fatal outcomes. Individual risk factors for severe disease include age, pre-existing medical conditions, and a high body mass index. At the national level, the impact of COVID-19 is complex and influenced by various factors such as the environment, geography, and socioeconomic conditions. Genetic factors, particularly those related to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), have been recognized as significant contributors to the variability in the severity of infectious diseases.
HLA Genotypes and Immune Response
The major histocompatibility complex, located on chromosome 6, represents a complex genetic system within the human genome. It includes genes encoding human leukocyte antigens (HLA), cell membrane proteins crucial for immune system regulation. HLA class I (A, B, C) and class II (DR, DQ, DP) genes play pivotal roles in antigen presentation to T lymphocytes and the recognition of self and non-self proteins. Polymorphisms in HLA class I and II genes contribute to the fine regulation of acquired immune responses. The study of these polymorphisms provides insights into the susceptibility or resistance of populations to infectious pathogens.
Associations between HLA and Infectious Diseases
Various infectious diseases, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, dengue, influenzas, tuberculosis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, and malaria, have been associated with specific HLA alleles. Notably, coronaviruses, such as those responsible for the SARS epidemic and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, have exhibited associations with particular HLAs. With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, researchers have actively investigated the potential role of HLA genotypes in modulating the immune response against the virus.
&l t;strong>Global Studies on HLA and COVID-19
Numerous studies worldwide have explored the associations between HLA alleles and COVID-19 severity. These investigations, conducted in countries such as China, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Israel, Brazil, Russia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and the USA, have provided valuable but often conflicting results. The variability in findings may stem from differences in sample sizes and population characteristics. Importantly, until the Romanian study, no specific investigation had been conducted in the populations of Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
The Romanian Study: Unveiling Genetic Associations
In the study conducted by the Romanian researchers aimed to fill the gap in knowledge regarding HLA associations with COVID-19 severity in the Romanian and Moldovan populations. The cohort of 130 individuals included those with severe and extremely severe forms of COVID-19, along with a control group comprising individuals without COVID-19 or with mild forms of the disease. The analysis focused on HLA alleles at the -A, -B, -C, -DRB1, and -DQB1 loci.
Key Findings and Implications
-Risk Factors - B27 and B50 Alleles: The study identified two HLA-B alleles, B27 and B50, as significant risk factors for developing severe forms of COVID-19. Carriers of these alleles exhibited an increased susceptibility to severe symptoms. The association of B*50 with severe symptoms was consistent with findings in an Iranian study, emphasizing the relevance of these risk alleles across diverse populations.
-Protective Alleles - A33 and C15: In contrast, the study revealed the potential protective effects of the A33 and C15 alleles against severe COVID-19. Individuals with these alleles were less likely to experience severe forms of the disease. This protective role aligns with broader immunogenetic patterns, suggesting that certain HLA alleles may confer resistance to severe manifestations of COVID-19.
-Protection Against Extremely Severe Forms - A03 and DQB102: The investigation identified two alleles, A03 and DQB102, as protective factors against extremely severe forms of COVID-19. Carriers of these alleles were associated with a reduced risk of requiring oxygen therapy, indicating a potential safeguard against severe respiratory complications. These findings align with studies in Russia and Mexico, highlighting the global relevance of these protective alleles.
-Haplotype Associations with Disease Severity: The analysis of haplotypes, combinations of inherited alleles, revealed a statistically significant association with the severity of COVID-19. The most prevalent haplotype, A01~B08DQB1*02, was identified in both severe cases and the control group. This haplotype, known as the 8.1 ancestral haplotype, has been associated with increased susceptibility to autoimmune disorders, suggesting a potential link between immune regulation and COVID-19 severity.
-Impact of Age, Gender, and Vaccination Status: The study reaffirmed the influence of age on the severity of COVID-19, with older individuals being more prone to severe outcomes. The proportion of men among deceased individuals and those with extremely severe forms was significantly higher, consistent with previous studies. Notably, significant differences in vaccination status were observed, emphasizing the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing severe outcomes and deaths.
Challenges and Future Directions
While the study offers valuable insights, it acknowledges limitations, including a relatively small sample size and low-resolution HLA typing. Future studies with larger sample sizes and high-resolution assays are crucial to validate and confirm these findings. The dynamic nature of SARS-CoV-2 variants also emphasizes the need for ongoing research to assess the impact of background immunogenetic characteristics in diverse populations.
The Romanian study represents a significant contribution to the understanding of genetic factors influencing COVID-19 severity. The identified associations between specific HLA alleles and disease outcomes underscore the complex interplay between host genetics and viral infections. These findings not only contribute to the global effort in deciphering the intricacies of COVID-19 but also hold promise for the development of targeted interventions and informed vaccination strategies. As research in this field continues to evolve, a deeper understanding of the genetic determinants of COVID-19 severity will undoubtedly guide future efforts in managing and preventing the disease.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
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