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Genomewide association study of HLA alloimmunization in previously pregnant blood donors

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Alloimmunization through blood transfusion, transplantation, or circulating fetal cells during pregnancy is a significant concern. Some exposed individuals make alloantibodies while others do not, implying variation in genetic risk factors.

Study design and methods

We conducted a genomewide association study (GWAS) of 9,427,497 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to identify genetic variants for HLA alloimmunization in previously pregnant blood donors with (n = 752) and without (n = 753) HLA Class I or II alloantibodies.


A SNP in the neurexophilin 2 (NXPH2) gene surpassed genome-wide significance (p = 2.06 × 10-8 ), with multiple adjacent markers p < 10-6 , for women with anti-Class I alloantibodies only. Little is currently known about the function of NXPH2, although gene family members have been shown to impact immunity. SNPs in the E2F7 gene, a transcription factor related to cell cycle control and cellular proliferation, also approached genomewide significance (p = 2.5 × 10-7 ).


Further work to extend the GWAS approach and to characterize variants in NXPH2 and E2F7 in the context of alloantibody formation is warranted.

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