René L Warren, Inanç Birol


The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) gene locus plays a fundamental role in human immunity, and it is established that certain HLA alleles are disease determinants. Previously, we have identified prevalent HLA class I and class II alleles, including DPA1*02:02, in two small patient cohorts at the COVID-19 pandemic onset.


We have since analyzed a larger public patient cohort data (n = 126 patients) with controls, associated demographic and clinical data. By combining the predictive power of multiple in silico HLA predictors, we report on HLA-I and HLA-II alleles, along with their associated risk significance.


We observe HLA-II DPA1*02:02 at a higher frequency in the COVID-19 positive cohort (29%) when compared to the COVID-negative control group (Fisher’s exact test [FET] p = 0.0174). Having this allele, however, does not appear to put this cohort’s patients at an increased risk of hospitalization. Inspection of COVID-19 disease severity outcomes, including admission to intensive care, reveal nominally significant risk associations with A*11:01 (FET p = 0.0078) and C*04:01 (FET p = 0.0087). The association with severe disease outcome is especially evident for patients with C*04:01, where disease prognosis measured by mechanical ventilation-free days was statistically significant after multiple hypothesis correction (Bonferroni p = 0.0323). While prevalence of some of these alleles falls below statistical significance after Bonferroni correction, COVID-19 patients with HLA-I C*04:01 tend to fare worse overall. This HLA allele may hold potential clinical value.

Learn more

Back to top