Objective. The SLC11A1 (formerly called NRAMP1) gene is important in natural resistance to a variety of intracellular infections mediated by macrophages and has been proposed as a candidate gene for autoimmune disease susceptibility. The aim of this study was to examine susceptibility in Finnish patients with persistent oligoarticular and polyarticular rheumatoid factor (RF)-negative juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) due to the presence of the SLC11A1 locus on chromosome 2. Methods. A total of 234 Finnish JIA nuclear families and 639 elderly Finnish controls without a history of JIA were evaluated for association with JIA at 3 intragenic single-nucleotide polymorphisms: an intragenie insertion/deletion, a promoter microsatellite (NRAMP1), and a 3′ microsatellite (D2S1471). Results. Analysis of marker haplotypes demonstrated a strong association of Finnish JIA with 6-marker, 4-marker, and 2-marker haplotypes. Most impressively, 1 of the 6-marker haplotypes showed an odds ratio (OR) of 4.0 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 2.6-6.2) in all JIA patients, 3.5 (95% CI 1.9-6.5) in those with persistent oligoarticular JIA, and 4.1 (95% CI 2.5-6.7) in those with polyarticular RF-negative JIA. Stratification of the haplotype data suggested that susceptibility to JIA in the haplotype spanning the SLC11A1 locus is independent (P < 0.01) of an association with a DRB1 JIA shared epitope (DRB1*JIASE) that includes well-characterized strong susceptibility to DRB1*08 and *11 alleles. This SLC11A1 haplotype also had an additive effect with DRB1*JIASE in those with polyarticular, but not those with persistent oligoarticular, disease (P = 0.06, OR 2.9 [95% CI 0.9-9.2] versus P = 0.5, OR 1.6 [95% CI 0.4-6.0]). Conclusion. Taken together, these data provide support for the existence of a locus at or near SLC11A1 that is a strong susceptibility factor for JIA in Finnish patients.
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