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Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are expressed on natural killer cells and some T-cell subsets and produce either activation or inhibitory signals upon binding with the appropriate human leucocyte antigen (HLA) ligand on target cells. Recent genetic association studies have implicated KIR genotype in the development of several inflammatory conditions. Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory disorder of the colonic mucosa that results from an inappropriate activation of the immune system driven by host bacterial flora. We developed a polymerase chain reaction-sequence specific primer (SSP)-based assay to genotype 194 UC patients and 216 control individuals for 14 KIR genes, the HLA-Cw ligand epitopes of the KIR2D receptors and a polymorphism of the lectin-like-activating receptor NKG2D. Initial analysis found the phenotype frequency of KIR2DL2 and -2DS2 to be significantly increased in the UC cohort (P=0.030 and 0.038, respectively). Logistic regression analysis revealed a protective effect conferred by KIR2DL3 in the presence of its ligand HLA-Cw group 1 (P=0.019). These results suggest that KIR genotype and HLA ligand interaction may contribute to the genetic susceptibility of UC.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes Immun

Publication Date





576 - 582


Base Sequence, Case-Control Studies, Colitis, Ulcerative, DNA Primers, Gene Frequency, Genotype, HLA Antigens, HLA-C Antigens, Humans, Killer Cells, Natural, Ligands, Multigene Family, NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K, Phenotype, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Receptors, Immunologic, Receptors, KIR, Receptors, KIR2DL2, Receptors, KIR2DL3, Receptors, Natural Killer Cell