Human Leukocyte Antigen DRB1*13:02 Protects Against Dementia
Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) class II genes play a
critical role in immune protection from foreign antigens.
Recent evidence documents protective effects of the
HLA DRB1*13:02 allele, in particular, against age-related
brain atrophy and neural network deterioration, suggesting
a possible protection against dementia. Here we
utilized a genetic epidemiological approach to investigate
the association of DRB1*13:02 frequency and dementia
prevalence globally. Results demonstrated that the prevalence
of dementia decreases exponentially with increasing
frequency of DRB1*13:02, even when adjusted for
the prevalence of apolipoprotein E4 allele, a known risk
factor for Alzheimer’s disease. This finding documents
the protective effect of DRB1*13:02 on dementia prevalence.
Since the function of HLA class II genes is to
aid in the elimination of pathogens by enabling the production
of antibodies against their antigens in specific
immunity, the protective effect of DRB1*13:02 points
to the presence of persistent harmful antigens as causal
factors in development of dementia, antigens specific to
DRB1*13:02 that could not be eliminated in its absence.