Although the well-established role of the HLA genes on the predisposition of type 1 diabetes (T1D), its contribution to the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy is still unclear, especially in admixed populations. We aimed to study the relationship between HLA alleles and severe diabetic retinopathy in a highly admixed population of T1D patients.
This was a nested case-control study based on a cross-sectional, nationwide survey conducted in Brazil. We included 117 patients with severe diabetic retinopathy and 117 random controls composed of T1D patients without retinopathy, matched for diabetes duration. HLA-class II genes (HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1) were genotyped using the SSO and NGS methods.
Haplotypes HLA-DRB1*04:05 ~ DQA1*03:01 g ~ DQB1*03:02 (OR 1.75, CI 0.97-3.16, p value 0.058) and HLA-DRB1*13:02 ~ DQA1*01:02 ~ DQB1*06:04 (OR 5.18, CI 1.12-23.09, p value 0.019) were more prevalent on the severe DR group but they did not present statistically difference after Bonferroni correction. The most frequent haplotype on both groups was HLA-DRB1*03:01 ~ DQA1*05:01 g ~ DQB1*02:01 (29.6% on severe DR and 33.33% on the control group).
Our study showed no influence of HLA genes on the development of DR. Further longitudinal data is needed to better understand the role of genetic factors on this multifactorial significant microvascular complication.

© 2021. The Author(s).