Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(2):111-115. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.111

Research Paper

Association between the frequency of class II HLA antigens and the susceptibility to intrauterine infection of hepatitis B virus

Yuan-yong Xu1#, Ji-yun Yu2#, Yan-wei Zhong3#, Hong-bin Song1, Hui-hui Liu4, Lei-li Jia1, Shen-long Li1, Jian-qiu Xu5, Qiao Li2, 6

1. Institute of Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Military Medical Science, Beijing, China
2. Institue of Basic Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.
3. 302 Hospital of PLA, Beijing, China.
4. Department of Epidemiology, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China.
5. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maternal and Child Health Hospital of Shaanxi Province, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.
6. Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
#These authors contributed equally to the work

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Xu Yy, Yu Jy, Zhong Yw, Song Hb, Liu Hh, Jia Ll, Li Sl, Xu Jq, Li Q. Association between the frequency of class II HLA antigens and the susceptibility to intrauterine infection of hepatitis B virus. Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(2):111-115. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.111. Available from

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Multiple factors determine the susceptibility to intrauterine hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. These factors include the HBV structure, HBV mutation, HBV DNA level, placental barrier, the immune status of the mother, and the genetic make-ups of the newborn infants. Since HLA system is an integral component of the immune response, we hypothesized that the highly polymorphic HLA genes are the key determinants of intrauterine HBV infection. In this study, we selected newborn infants of HBsAg-positive mothers, and divided the infants into 2 groups: intrauterine infection group and non-intrauterine infection group according to the status whether or not they were infected at birth. Each infected infant was compared with 2 controls from the same birth cohort. HLA-DR allele typing was performed using a PCR-sequence specific primer (PCR-SSP) for 24 subjects with intrauterine infection and 48 controls without infection. We found that, among the fifteen (15) HLA-DR alleles assessed, HLA-DRB1*07 was the one, and the only one, significantly in excess (OR = 6.66, P = 0.004) in the intrauterine infection group compared to the non-intrauterine infection group. Our findings thus suggest that high frequency of HLA class II molecules, e.g. HLA-DRB1*07, is associated with the susceptibility of the infants to intrauterine HBV infection.

Keywords: Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Human leukocyte antigen (HLA), Genetic susceptibility, Intrauterine infection, Nested case-control study