The polymorphic variable number of tandem repeats in the 5′ upstream region of the human insulin gene is a well-known non-human leukocyte antigen locus contributing to genetic susceptibility to IDDM. Controversy exists about the question as to whether INS susceptibility haplotypes are or are not preferentially inherited together with HLA-DR4 haplotypes. We investigated whether genetic interaction between INS and the HLA complex can be better defined using DQ genotypic and phenotypic markers in addition to DR serology. The 5′ INS 1/1 genotype was positively associated with IDDM both in non-DR4 subjects (relative risk = 4.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.6–11.5) and DR4 subjects (relative risk = 4.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.9–9.0). Further subdivision of IDDM patients and matched control subjects according to HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genotype or phenotype also failed to show any association between 5′ INS and HLA class II genes in diabetic patients. The 5′ INS and HLA class II polymorphisms therefore provide independent risk markers, which may both contribute to the genetic screening of a high-risk population among nondiabetic individuals.

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