HLA association mnemonics

The genes that encode HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) are on chromosome 6.

MHC classTypeLocationFunction
IHLA-A, -B, -CAll cellsRecognized by CD8+ lymphocytes
IIHLA-DP, -DQ, -DRAntigen presenting cellsRecognized by CD4+ lymphocytes
IIIComplement componentsPlasmaChemotaxis, opsonization, lysis of bacteria and cells
User atropos235 on en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The rhymes

Two and Three – SLE
Three and Four – Sugar

HLA DR-2 and DR-3: SLE

  • HLA DR-2: Japanese SLE
  • HLA DR-3: Caucasian SLE

HLA DR-3 and DR-4: Diabetes Mellitus type 1 (IDDM)

Bet (B8) – Death (Grave)

HLA B-8:

  • GRAVE’s disease
  • Myasthenia GRAVIS

HLA DR-3 and B-8 share same disease associations many times:

  1. Graves’ disease
  2. Myasthenia gravis
  3. Sarcoidosis
  4. Sjogren’s syndrome
  5. Celiac disease and Dermatitis herpetiformis
  6. SLE
  7. Dermatomyositis
  8. Addison’s disease

C 6 – Sis Vulgaris

  • HLA CW-6: Psoriasis vulgaris

Seven – Pee in Heaven

HLA-DR7: Steroid responsive nephrotic syndrome

Other Mnemonics

Two pairs of alphabets – GH and MN


  • Goodpasture’s syndrome
  • Hayfever
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Narcolepsy

Take 1st letter from DM and 1st letter from RA, and in total they make 4 letters

DM + RA = DR4


  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (93% have HLA type)

If you see B with 5 it’s Behcet’s disease

  • HLA B-5
  • HLA B-51
  • HLA B-52


  • Pernicious anemia
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Alopecia areata

HLA A-3: Ferric ion is trivalent

  • Hemochromatosis


Seronegative arthritis:

  1. Psoriatic arthritis
  2. Ankylosing spondylitis (relative risk 70-90%)
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease
  4. Reiter’s syndrome (relative risk 40%)

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