One-hundred and two patients from the area of Hamburg, Germany, with vitiligo (photo-skin types II and III, Fitzpatrick classification, 1979), were examined for a possible association of the human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) complex with this disease. Antisera panels for the detection of 75 HLA antigens were utilized for this HLA typing (WHO Bulletin, 1988). The results were compared with 400 unrelated age- and sex-matched controls with photo-skin types II and III from the same geographical area. Nine of 76 vitiligo patients showed a significantly increased expression of the rare antigen HLA DRW 12 (pc = 0.000708), and 65/102 patients showed a marginally significant increased frequency of HLA A2 (pc = 0.04850) compared with controls. For HLA BW60 (40), a significant increase in frequency was shown only in the adult vitiligo group (pc = 0.0126). A ‘preventive’ antigen for the manifestation of vitiligo has not been identified in this study. A comparative analysis of all published data on the possible association of HLA with vitiligo does not support a definitive linkage to the MHC so far.

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