To evaluate the possibility that genetic factors contribute to the excess rates of multiple myeloma among blacks, serological typing of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) was conducted for black and white male patients and controls who participated in a large population-based case-control interview study. Forty-six black cases, 88 black controls, 85 white cases, and 122 white controls were typed for the Class I antigens (HLA-A, -B, -C) and for the Class II antigens (HLA-DR, HLA-DQ). Black cases had significantly higher gene frequencies than black controls for Bw65, Cw2, and DRw14, while white cases had higher gene frequencies than white controls for A3 and Cw2 and blanks at the DR and DQ loci. Further analysis of the association between Cw2 and multiple myeloma revealed relative risks of 5.7 (95% confidence interval = 1.5-26.6) and 2.6 (95% confidence interval = 1.0-7.2) for blacks and whites, respectively. The frequency of Cw2 in black and white controls was similar. These findings suggest that the Cw2 allele enhances the risk of myeloma in blacks and whites but do not explain the higher incidence of this cancer among blacks. The study also suggests that undefined DQ antigens may play an etiological role, supporting the need for further research into the immunogenetic determinants of myeloma.

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