Polymorphism of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and their HLA ligands in Graves’ disease

Abstract: Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) play a pivotal role in commencement of both innate and adaptive immunity. Dysregulation of KIRs is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune disorders. This study was designed to assess whether polymorphisms in KIR gene family and their respective HLA class I ligands confer protection or susceptibly to Graves’ disease (GD). Eighty patients with confirmed GD (cases) and 176 healthy unrelated subjects (controls) were recruited. Using a polymerase chain reaction sequence-specific primer directed method (PCR-SSP), presence or absence of KIR genes and their HLA ligands were determined. No significant differences were observed between case and control groups regarding individual KIR gene frequencies (p[0.05 in all cases). The frequency of group A haplotype (the most common KIR haplotype, encompassing 2DL1/2DL3/ 3DL1/2DS4/2DP1/3DP1/2DL4/3DL2/3DL3), was not different between individuals with and without GD. Moreover, among all other haplotypes (group Bx), no significant differences regarding distribution of centromeric and telomeric gene clusters were identifiable. Inhibitory/activatory gene contents were also comparable between the two groups. Four models of KIR-HLA interaction (inhibition, activation, unrestrained inhibition, and unrestrained activation) were constructed. No combination proved to confer susceptibility to, or offer protection against GD. It seems that the contribution of KIR gene polymorphism to natural killer cell dysfunction and other autoimmune abnormalities observed in GD is limited. Keywords KIR-HLA interaction  Genetic polymorphism  Graves’ disease  Autoimmunity  Population genetics