Human leucocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lying in the HLA region are known to be associated with several infectious diseases among which acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, leprosy and malaria are highly prevalent in many human populations worldwide. Distinct approaches such as case-control comparisons, immunogenetic analyses, bioinformatic peptide-binding predictions, ancient DNA and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have contributed to improving this knowledge during the last decade, although many results still need stronger statistical and/or functional support. The present review updates the information regarding the main HLA allele and SNP associations observed to date for six of the most widespread and some other infectious diseases, and provides a synthetic illustration of these findings on a schematic HLA genomic map. It then discusses these results by stressing the importance of integrating information on HLA population diversity in disease-association studies.
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