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MICA*019 Allele and Soluble MICA as Biomarkers for Ankylosing Spondylitis in Taiwanese


MICA (major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related gene A) interacts with NKG2D on immune cells to regulate host immune responses. We aimed to determine whether MICA alleles are associated with AS susceptibility in Taiwanese. MICA alleles were determined through haplotype analyses of major MICA coding SNP (cSNP) data from 895 AS patients and 896 normal healthy controls in Taiwan. The distributions of MICA alleles were compared between AS patients and normal healthy controls and among AS patients, stratified by clinical characteristics. ELISA was used to determine soluble MICA (sMICA) levels in serum of AS patients and healthy controls. Stable cell lines expressing four major MICA alleles (MICA*002, MICA*008, MICA*010 and MICA*019) in Taiwanese were used for biological analyses. We found that MICA*019 is the only major MICA allele significantly associated with AS susceptibility (PFDR = 2.25 × 10-115; OR, 14.90; 95% CI, 11.83-18.77) in Taiwanese. In addition, the MICA*019 allele is associated with syndesmophyte formation (PFDR = 0.0017; OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.29-2.22) and HLA-B27 positivity (PFDR = 1.45 × 10-33; OR, 28.79; 95% CI, 16.83-49.26) in AS patients. Serum sMICA levels were significantly increased in AS patients as compared to healthy controls. Additionally, MICA*019 homozygous subjects produced the highest levels of sMICA, compared to donors with other genotypes. Furthermore, in vitro experiments revealed that cells expressing MICA*019 produced the highest level of sMICA, as compared to other major MICA alleles. In summary, the MICA*019 allele, producing the highest levels of sMICA, is a significant risk factor for AS and syndesmophyte formation in Taiwanese. Our data indicate that a high level of sMICA is a biomarker for AS.

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