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Immunogenetics of viral infections.


The HLA class I and II genes encode molecules that lie at the heart of the acquired immune response against infectious diseases. Associations between these polymorphic loci and genetically complex infectious diseases have been historically elusive, in contrast to the more obvious HLA associations with autoimmune diseases. High resolution molecular typing of large, clinically well-defined cohorts has begun to uncover evidence for the influence of HLA diversity on diseases of viral etiology, such as those caused by HIV-1, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human papilloma virus. Combinations of HLA and KIR also appear to affect outcome to viral infection, supporting a role for HLA class I diversity in the innate immune response in addition to the acquired immune response.