Purpose of review: HLA-B27 is associated with low viral load and long-term nonprogression in HIV infection as well as spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. This review summarizes mechanisms that have been suggested to be involved in this protective effect of HLA-B27, and highlights possible lessons for the role of HLA-B27 in spondyloarthritis.
Recent findings: Recent studies linked protection by HLA-B27 in HIV and HCV infection to virological mechanisms such as a complicated pathways of viral escape from immunodominant HLA-B27-restricted virus-specific CD8+ T-cell epitopes. In addition, several immunological mechanisms have been proposed, including CD8+ T-cell polyfunctionality and functional avidity, thymic selection of CD8+ T-cell precursors, specific T-cell receptor repertoires and clonotypes, efficient antigen processing, and evasion from regulatory T-cell-mediated suppression.
Summary: Multiple virological and immunological mechanisms have been suggested to contribute to HLA-B27-mediated protection in HIV and HCV infection. Some of these mechanisms may also be involved in HLA-B27-associated pathogenesis in spondyloarthritis.