BACKGROUND: An inefficient immune response against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is related to the pathogenesis of a subgroup of classical Hodgkin lymphomas (cHL). Some EBV immune-evasion mechanisms target HLA presentation, including the non-classical HLA-E molecule. HLA-E can be recognized by T cells via the TCR, and it also regulates natural killer (NK) cell signaling through the inhibitory CD94/NKG2A receptor. Some evidences indicate that EBV-infected B-cells promote the proliferation of NK subsets bearing CD94/NKG2A, suggesting a relevant function of these cells in EBV control. Variations in CD94/NKG2A-HLA-E interactions could affect NK cell-mediated immunity and, consequently, play a role in EBV-driven transformation and lymphomagenesis. The two most common HLA-E alleles, E*01:01 and E*01:03, differ by a single amino acid change that modifies the molecule function. We hypothesized that the functional differences in these variants might participate in the pathogenicity of EBV.<br /><br />AIM: We studied two series of cHL patients, both with EBV-positive and-negative cases, and a cohort of unrelated controls, to assess the impact of HLA-E variants on EBV-related cHL susceptibility.<br /><br />RESULTS: We found that the genotypes with at least one copy of E*01:01 (i.e., E*01:01 homozygous and heterozygous) were underrepresented among cHL patients from both series compared to controls (72.6% and 71.6% vs 83%, p = 0.001). After stratification by EBV status, we found low rates of E*01:01-carriers mainly among EBV-positive cases (67.6%). These reduced frequencies are seen independently of other factors such as age, gender, HLA-A*01 and HLA-A*02, HLA alleles positively and negatively associated with the disease (adjusted OR = 0.4, p = 0.001). Furthermore, alleles from both HLA loci exert a cumulative effect on EBV-associated cHL susceptibility.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that E*01:01 is a novel protective genetic factor in EBV-associated cHL and support a role for HLA-E recognition on the control of EBV infection and lymphomagenesis.
Martín, P., Krsnik, I., Navarro, B., Provencio, M., García, J. F., Bellas, C., … Gomez-Lozano, N. (2015). HLA Allele E∗01:01 Is associated with a reduced risk of EBV-related classical hodgkin lymphoma independently of HLAA∗01/∗02. PLoS ONE, 10(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135512