Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) shares some clinical features and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) markers with gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE). We compared MHC haplotypes in 27 patients with DH, 35 patients with GSE, and normal controls. As in GSE, the frequencies of two extended haplotypes, [HLA-B8, SC01, DR3] and [HLA-B44, FC31, DR7], were increased in patients with DH. Distributions of fragments of extended haplotypes, consisting of some but not all of the elements of complete extended haplotypes, were analyzed to attempt to localize a susceptibility gene. Besides complete extended susceptibility haplotypes, (DR3, DQ2) and (DR7, DQ2) fragments were most common in GSE. In contrast, DH showed only a few such fragments but many instances of the fragment (SC01). The differences in distribution of these fragments in the two diseases were highly significant (P < 0.002). HLA-DQ2 and DR3 had the highest odds ratios for GSE, but the highest odds ratio for DH was for the complotype SC01. These findings suggest that the MHC susceptibility gene for DH is between class II and complotype regions, closest to the complotype, whereas that for GSE is in the class II region.

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