Leptospirosis is an emerging zoonotic disease caused by pathogenic species of the genus Leptospira. It has a broad range of clinical presentations in humans. Although progress has been made in the characterization of the host immune system factors that may affect disease progression and outcome, to date few reports have addressed the role of genetic polymorphisms in the susceptibility to leptospirosis. In this work a group of patients with a history of leptospiral infection and a control group were compared for polymorphisms in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), in killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR), and in cytokine genes. Alleles in the HLA-A and -B loci were associated with susceptibility, as were the class I haplotype A*01-B*08-Cw*07 and the 8.1 ancestral haplotype (A*01-B*08-Cw*07-DRB1*03-DQB1*02). Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-4Ralpha genes also had significantly higher frequencies in the patient group. No association was reported between KIR gene profile and leptospirosis. This work highlights the importance of using genetic polymorphisms to better understand the mechanisms involved in the immune response to leptospirosis.
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