The relationship between the HLA system and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) in South African Indians, a migrant Indian group, was evaluated by testing HLA-A, -B, and -C antigens in 184 patients and 1444 control subjects and HLA-DR antigens in 104 patients and 330 control subjects. There was a significant increase in the frequency of HLA-Bw61 in patients compared with control subjects (27.7 vs. 18%, P = .00155), although the degree of association was not very strong (relative risk 1.7). A similar association has been noted in Fiji Indians, another migrant Indian group. However, no relationship could be established at the DR locus. It is suggested that the relatively high frequency of the Bw61 allele in South African Indians could, in the presence of some environmental factor like obesity, confer increased susceptibility to NIDDM.

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