HLAs: Key regulators of T-cell-mediated drug hypersensitivity

Alec Redwood, R.K. Pavlos, Katie D. White, Elizabeth J. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Adverse drug reactions (ADR) can be broadly categorised as either on-target or off-target. On-target ADRs arise as a direct consequence of the pharmacological properties of the drug and are therefore predictable and dose-dependent. On-target ADRs comprise the majority (>80%) of ADRs, relate to the drug's interaction with its known pharmacological target and are a result of a complex interplay of genetic and ecologic factors. In contrast, off-target ADRs, including immune-mediated ADRs (IM-ADRs), are due to unintended pharmacological interactions such as inadvertent ligation of host cell receptors or non-pharmacological interactions mediated through an adaptive immune response. IM-ADRs can be classified according to the primary immune cell involved and include B-cell-mediated (Gell-Coombs type I-III reactions) and T-cell-mediated (Gell-Coombs type IV or delayed hypersensitivity) reactions. IM-ADRs mediated by T cells are associated with phenotypically distinct clinical diagnoses and can vary from a mild delayed rash to a life-threatening cutaneous, systemic or organ disease, such as Stephen Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms and drug-induced liver disease. T-cell-mediated ADRs are strongly linked to the carriage of particular HLA risk alleles which are in the case of abacavir hypersensitivity and HLA-B*57:01 has led to translation into the clinic as a routine screening test. In this review, we will discuss the immunogenetics and pathogenesis of IM-ADRs and how HLA associations inform both pre-drug screening strategies and mechanistic understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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