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4bases’ paper of the month: January 2021: a higher susceptibility to COVID-19 in the presence of specific alleles?

HLA involvement in COVID 19: new data from an Italian study suggest there might be a higher disease susceptibility in the presence of specific alleles.

Our team’s reading recommendation for this month goes to “HLA allele frequencies and susceptibility to COVID-19 in a group of 99 Italian patients” by Novelli et al[i]. This very interesting study focusses on the analysis of HLA allele frequency distribution in a group of 99 COVID patients with severe to extremely severe forms of the disease and makes a statistical comparison with a reference group of over 1000 individuals, unaffected by the COVID disease. Although the Ellinghaus et al study[ii] identifies a genetic susceptibility locus in patients with COVID 19 and respiratory failure without showing a significant evidence of HLA involvement, the Kachuri et al paper[iii] does support this hypothesis. The statistical analysis performed by the Rome group on the results of NGS molecular HLA typing on patients’ DNA confirms this latter result and identifies a significant positive association with three alleles: HLA B*27:07, DRB1*15:01 and DQB1*06:02 (these last two having equally been identified by Kachuri et al.) Whereas these data still have to be confirmed by larger and multicentric studies they do confirm that the genetic susceptibility study approach is extremely promising both in our understanding of this new and devastating disease but also in the future management of the pandemic. Having the possibility to evaluate the genetic susceptibility of patients to COVID has indeed a high number of implications in terms of prevention and therapeutic strategies. 

We at 4bases are currently developing new tools and innovative panels to support the molecular diagnostic and medical communities in their fight against COVID-19 and its variants.

[i] Novelli A et al. HLA allele frequencies and susceptibility to COVID-19 in a group of 99 Italian patients. HLA. 2020 Nov;96(5):610-614. doi: 10.1111/tan.14047. Epub 2020 Sep 3. PMID: 32827207; PMCID: PMC7461491.

Read on:


[ii] Severe Covid-19 GWAS Group, Ellinghaus et al. Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure. N Engl J Med. 2020 Oct 15;383(16):1522-1534. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2020283. Epub 2020 Jun 17. PMID: 32558485; PMCID: PMC7315890.

[iii] Kachuri L et al. The landscape of host genetic factors involved in infection to common viruses and SARS-CoV-2. medRxiv [Preprint]. 2020 May 30:2020.05.01.20088054. doi: 10.1101/2020.05.01.20088054. Update in: Genome Med. 2020 Oct 27;12(1):93. PMID: 32511533; PMCID: PMC7273301.


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