Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Affected sibling pairs with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

An immunogenetic study of the disease in multicase families

Hanna Säilä

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Rheumatism Foundation Hospital, Heinola; Diabetes and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, National Public Health Institute and Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki.

Genetic susceptibility to juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) was studied in the genetically homogeneous Finnish population by collecting families with two or three patients affected by this disease from cases seen in the Rheumatism Foundation Hospital. The number of families ranged in different studies from 37 to 45 and the total number of patients with JIA, from among whom these cases were derived, was 2 000 to 2 300. Characteristics of the disease in affected siblings in Finland were compared with a population-based series and with a sibling series from the United States. A thorough clinical and ophthalmological examination was made of all affected patients belonging to sibpair series. Information on the occurrence of chronic rheumatic diseases in parents was collected by questionnaire and diagnoses were confirmed from hospital records.

All patients, their parents and most of the healthy sibs were typed for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles in loci A, C, B, DR and DQ. The HLA allele distribution of the cases was compared with corresponding data from Finnish bone marrow donors.

The genetic component in JIA was found to be more significant than previously believed. A concordance rate of 25% for a disease with a population prevalence of 1 per 1000 implied a relative risk of 250 for a monozygotic (MZ) twin. An estimate for the sibling risk of an affected individual was about 15- to 20-fold.

The disease was basically similar in familial and sporadic cases; the mean age at disease onset was however lower in familial cases, (4.8 years vs 7.4 years). Three sibpairs (3.4 expected) were concordant for the presence of asymptomatic uveitis. Uveitis would thus not appear to have any genetic component of its own, separate from the genetic basis of JIA. Four of the parents had JIA (0.2 cases expected), four had a type of rheumatoid factor-negative arthritis similar to that seen in juvenile patients but commencing in adulthood, and one had spondyloarthropathy (SPA). These findings provide additional support for the conception of a genetic predisposition to JIA and suggest the existence of a new disease entity, JIA of adult onset.

Both the linkage analysis of the affected sibpairs and the association analysis of nuclear families provided overwhelming evidence of a major contribution of HLA to the genetic susceptibility to JIA. The association analysis in the Finnish population confirmed that the most significant associations prevailed for DRB1*0801, DQB1*0402, as expected from previous observations, and indicated the independent role of Cw*0401.

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Last updated 10.05.2006

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