Recurrent erythema multiforme : tissue typing in a large series of patients
Previous reports have shown an increased frequency of certain HLA antigens in association with erythema multiforme, including HLA-B15(B62), HLA-B35, HLA-A33, HLA-DR53 and, more recently, HLA-DQB1*0301. A strong association with HLA-DQ3 has been documented in patients with recurrent erythema multiforme. We have performed HLA typing in 39 patients with recurrent erythema multiforme, of whom 33 were associated with herpes simplex virus infection. The results were compared with 309 controls. In the recurrent erythema multiforme patients there was a statistically significant increase in HLA-B62 and HLA-B35. An increase in HLA-DR53 was also found, although this did not reach statistical significance. There was no increase in HLA-A33. The presence of HLA-DQ3 in the study population approached that in the controls. Finally, the study population demonstrated a trend towards a reduction in the HLA antigens A1, B8, and DR3. The study confirms the previously reported associations with HLA-B62 (B15), HLA-B35 and HLA-DR53. We have been unable to confirm an association of HLA-A33 or HLA-DQ3 with erythema multiforme. The HLA antigens A1, B8, and DR3 are associated with autoimmune disease, reflecting an increased host response to tissue self antigens. Their absence in patients with recurrent erythema multiforme (REM) may be an indicator of a poor host response to an antigen, which in the case of REM is the herpes simplex virus.