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Increased occurrence of anti-AQP4 seropositivity and unique HLA Class II associations with neuromyelitis optica (NMO), among Muslim Arabs in Israel.

J Neuroimmunol. 2016 Apr 15;293:65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2016.02.006. Epub 2016 Feb 15.

Brill L1, Mandel M2, Karussis D1, Petrou P1, Miller K3, Ben-Hur T1, Karni A4, Paltiel O5, Israel S3, Vaknin-Dembinsky A6.


Previous studies have revealed different human leukocyte antigen (HLA) associations in multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica (NMO), further discriminating these two demyelinating pathological conditions. In worldwide analyses, NMO and opticospinal MS are represented at higher proportions among demyelinating conditions in African, East-Asian and Latin American populations. There are currently no data regarding the prevalence of NMO in Middle East Muslims. The population in Israel is diverse in many ways, and includes subpopulations, based on religion and ethnicity; some exhibit genetic homogeneity. In Israel, the incidence of MS is lower in the Muslim population than the Jewish population and Muslims carry different allele frequency distribution of HLA haplotypes.


To evaluate the occurrence of anti-AQP4 seropositivity in the Israeli Muslim population among patients with central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating conditions; and to identify the HLA DR and DQ profiles of Muslim Arab Israeli patients with NMO spectrum of diseases (NMOSD).


The prevalence of anti-AQP4 seropositivity was analyzed in 342 samples, obtained from patients with various CNS demyelinating conditions and in a validation set of 310 samples. HLA class II alleles (HLA-DRB1 and DQB1) were examined in DNA samples from 35 Israeli Muslim Arabs NMO patients and compared to available data from 74 Israeli Muslim controls.


Our data reveal a significantly increased prevalence of anti-AQP4 seropositivity, indicative of NMOSD, in Muslim Arab Israeli patients with initial diagnosis of a CNS demyelinating syndrome. In this population, there was a positive association with the HLA-DRB1*04:04 and HLA-DRB1*10:01 alleles (p=0.03), and a strong negative association with the HLA-DRB1*07 and HLA-DQB1*02:02 alleles (p=0.003, p=0.002).


Our findings indicate a possibly increased prevalence of NMOSD in Muslim Arabs in Israel with distinct (positive and negative) HLA associations. Further studies in patients with similar genetic backgrounds worldwide could help to confirm our findings and identify more genetic susceptibility factors for NMO, contributing to our general understanding of the pathogenesis of NMOSD.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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