Introduction: Kidney dysfunction is a highly significant disease, both in the United Kingdom and globally. Many previous studies have reported associations between human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and renal function; this systematic review attempts to identify, summarize and appraise all published studies of these associations. Methods: A literature search was performed using Medline, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to identify papers whose keywords included each of the following concepts: HLA, renal failure and genetic association. A total of 245 papers were identified and assessed for eligibility; 35 of these were included in the final study. Results: A total of 95 HLA types and 14 three-locus haplotypes were reported to be associated with either increased or decreased renal function. A number of these findings were replicated by independent studies that reported 16 types were protective against renal dysfunction and 15 types were associated with reduced renal function. A total of 20 HLA types were associated with both increased risk of renal disease and decreased risk by independent studies. Discussion: There is very little consensus on which HLA types have a protective or deleterious effect on renal function. Ethnicity may play a role, with HLA types possibly having different effects among different populations, and it is possible that the different primary diseases that lead to ESRD may have different HLA associations. Some of the studies may contain type I and type II errors caused by insufficient sample sizes, cohort selection and statistical methods. Although we have compiled a comprehensive list of published associations between renal function and HLA, in many cases, it is unclear which associations are reliable. Further studies are required to confirm or refute these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-62
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Immunogenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021


  • HLA antigens
  • chronic
  • genetic predisposition to disease
  • genome-wide association study
  • histocompatibility antigens
  • kidney failure
  • renal insufficiency
  • systematic review


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