HLA genetic polymorphism in patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Midwestern United States

Emily Schindler, Marian Dribus, Brian F. Duffy, Karl Hock, Christopher W. Farnsworth, Loren Gragert, Chang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The experience of individuals with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) ranges from asymptomatic to life threatening multi-organ dysfunction. Specific HLA alleles may affect the predisposition to severe COVID-19 because of their role in presenting viral peptides to launch the adaptive immune response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In this population-based case–control study in the midwestern United States, we performed high-resolution HLA typing of 234 cases hospitalized for COVID-19 in the St. Louis metropolitan area and compared their HLA allele frequencies with those of 22,000 matched controls from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). We identified two predisposing alleles, HLA-DRB1*08:02 in the Hispanic group (OR = 9.0, 95% confidence interval: 2.2–37.9; adjusted p = 0.03) and HLA-A*30:02 in younger African Americans with ages below the median (OR = 2.2, 1.4–3.6; adjusted p = 0.01), and several candidate alleles with potential associations with COVID-19 in African American, White, and Hispanic groups. We also detected risk-associated amino acid residues in the peptide binding grooves of some of these alleles, suggesting the presence of functional associations. These findings support the notion that specific HLA alleles may be protective or predisposing factors to COVID-19. Future consortium analysis of pooled cases and controls is warranted to validate and extend these findings, and correlation with viral peptide binding studies will provide additional evidence for the functional association between HLA alleles and COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-379
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • HLA
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • disease association


Dive into the research topics of 'HLA genetic polymorphism in patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Midwestern United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this