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Genetically Determined Partial Complement C4 Deficiency States Are Not Independent Risk Factors for SLE in UK and Spanish Populations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Lora Boteva, David L. Morris, Josefina Cortes-Hernandez, Javier Martin, Timothy J. Vyse, Maria Michelle Fernando

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445 - 456
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
Published9 Mar 2012

King's Authors


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, multisystem autoimmune disease. Complete deficiency of complement component C4 confers strong genetic risk for SLE. Partial C4 deficiency states have also shown association with SLE, but despite much effort over the last 30 years, it has not been established whether this association is primarily causal or secondary to long-range linkage disequilibrium. The complement C4 locus, located in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class III region, exhibits copy-number variation (CNV) and C4 itself exists as two paralogs, C4A and C4B. In order to determine whether partial C4 deficiency is an independent genetic risk factor for SLE, we investigated C4 CNV in the context of HLA-DRB1 and MFIC region SNP polymorphism in the largest and most comprehensive complement C4 study to date. Specifically, we genotyped 2,207 subjects of northern and southern European ancestry (1,028 SLE cases and 1,179 controls) for total C4, C4A, and C4B gene copy numbers, and the loss-of-function C4 exon 29 CT indel. We used multiple logistic regression to determine the independence of C4 CNV from known SNP and HLA-DRB1 associations. We clearly demonstrate that genetically determined partial C4 deficiency states are not independent risk factors for SLE in UK and Spanish populations. These results are further corroborated by the lack of association shown by the C4A exon 29 CT insertion in either cohort. Thus, although complete homozygous deficiency of complement C4 is one of the strongest genetic risk factors for SLE, partial C4 deficiency states do not independently predispose to the disease.

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