HLA-B27

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Also known as: HLA-B27 Antigen; B27
Formal name: Human Leukocyte Antigen B27

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To determine whether you have human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27) on the surface of your cells; to help assess the likelihood that you have an autoimmune disorder associated with the presence of HLA-B27

When to Get Tested?

When you have symptoms of arthritis-like chronic joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation in certain areas of your body, such as your lower back, hips, neck, and chest, or have painful inflammation of the eyes called uveitis, especially if you are male and the symptoms began in your early 30s

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

HLA-B27 is a specific protein (termed a human leukocyte antigen or HLA) that is found on cell surfaces. The term HLA-B27 is also used to refer to the gene that codes for the HLA-B27 protein. The HLA-B27 test determines the presence or absence of HLA-B27 protein on the surface of a person's white blood cells.

Human leukocyte antigens are proteins that help the body's immune system identify its own cells and distinguish between "self" and "nonself." Everyone has an inherited combination of HLA genes that code for the many antigens present on the surfaces of their cells. The presence or absence of each antigen creates a distinctive HLA combination for each person.

HLA-B27 is found in about 6% of the U.S. population. People with HLA-B27 have an increased likelihood of developing autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), reactive arthritis (of which one subset is Reiter syndrome), and isolated acute anterior uveitis. HLA-B27 has also been linked with inflammatory bowel disease and a range of other chronic conditions.

While HLA-B27 has not been established as a cause of any of these disorders, there is a higher prevalence of the antigen in those affected. For example, even though only 6% of the population has HLA-B27, approximately 88% of people with ankylosing spondylitis are positive for HLA-B27.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

Common Questions

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Article Sources

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

Sources Used in Current Review

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. HLA-B27 antigen. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003551.htm. Accessed June 2013.

Di Lorenzo, AL et al. HLA-B27 Syndromes. Medscape Reference. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1201027-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed June 2013.

Reveille JD, Hirsch R, Dillon CF, Carroll MD, Weisman MH. The prevalence of HLA-B27 in the US: data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 May;64(5):1407-11. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22139851 through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed June 2013.

MayoClinic.com. Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ankylosing-spondylitis/DS00483/ through http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed June 2013. 

Diyarbakir E, Eyerci N, Melikoglu M, Topcu A, Pirim I. HLA B27 subtype distribution among patients with ankylosing spondylitis in eastern Turkey. Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. 2012 May;16(5):456-8. Epub 2012 Mar 21. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22621386 through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed June 2013.

Spondylitis Association of America. About Ankylosing Spondylitis. Available online at http://www.spondylitis.org/about/as.aspx through http://www.spondylitis.org. Accessed June 2013.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (2001). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 5th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO.

Ankylosing spondylitis. Hendrick Health System, AccessMed Online Health Information Library [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ehendrick.org/healthy/ through http://www.ehendrick.org.

HLA-B27. ARUP's Guide to Clinical Laboratory Testing (CLT) [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.aruplab.com/guides/clt/tests/clt_a287.htm#1195370 through http://www.aruplab.com.

Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment. Spondylitis Association of America [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.spondylitis.org/html/htmlpages.asp?load=diagnosis_what.htm through http://www.spondylitis.org.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2003 June 05). Ankylosing spondylitis. MayoClinic.com, Diseases and Conditions [On-line information. Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00483 through http://www.mayoclinic.com.

Kovacs, B. (2001 November 29, Updated). Reiter's syndrome. MEDLINEplus Health Information, Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000440.htm.

Milone, M. (2001 November 19, Updated). Histocompatibility antigens. MEDLINEplus Health Information, Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003550.htm.

Milone, M. (2001 December 5, Updated). HLA-B27 antigen. MEDLINEplus Health Information, Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003551.htm.

(2003 May 21, Updated). Spondylitis: Frequently Asked Questions. Spondylitis Association of America [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.spondylitis.org/about/faq.aspx through http://www.spondylitis.org.

(2003 June 19, Updated). Reactive Arthritis/Reiter's Syndrome (ReA), Diagnosis. Spondylitis Association of America [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.spondylitis.org/about/reactive/diagnosis.aspx through http://www.spondylitis.org.

Agrawal, S. (2003 August 15). Immunophenotyping using flow cytometry. Express Healthcare Management [On-line Newspaper, India]. Available online at http://www.expresshealthcaremgmt.com/labwatch/lab6.shtml through http://www.expresshealthcaremgmt.com.

Waheed, N. (1998). HLA-B27 Associated Uveitis. Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, Ocular Immunology & Uveitis Service [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.uveitis.org/Enhanced/MD_info/md_hlab27.htm through http://www.uveitis.org.

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (© 2007). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp. 544-545.

(© 2007). Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Diagnosis. Spondylitis Association of America [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.spondylitis.org/about/as_diag.aspx through http://www.spondylitis.org. Accessed on 9/09/07.

Alexander, D. (2007 May 29, Updated). HLA-B27 antigen. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003551.htm. Accessed on 9/09/07.

Thjodleifsson, B. et. al.(2007 July 30). Evidence of a Common Genetic Background for Ankylosing Spondylitis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. American College of Rheumatology from Arthritis & Rheumatism 2007; (DOI:10.1002/art.22812) [On-line journal article]. Available online at http://www.rheumatology.org/press/2007/0730ankylosing.asp through http://www.rheumatology.org. Accessed on 9/09/07.

(© 2007). Ankylosing Spondylitis. American College of Rheumatology [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.rheumatology.org/public/factsheets/as.asp?aud=pat through http://www.rheumatology.org. Accessed on 9/9/07.

Waheed, N. (© 1996-2006). HLA-B27 Associated Uveitis. The Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.uveitis.org/medical/articles/case/hlab27.html through http://www.uveitis.org. Accessed on 9/09/07.

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2009 May 21). HLA-B27 antigen. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information] Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003551.htm. Accessed October 2010.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2009 February 3). Ankylosing spondylitis. MayoClinic.com [On-line information] Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/ankylosing-spondylitis/DS00483/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print through http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed October 2010.

Brent, L. and Kalagate, R. (Updated 2010 May 6). Ankylosing Spondylitis and Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy. eMedicine On-line information] Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332945-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed October 2010.

Altman, R. (Revised 2008 February). Seronegative Spondyloarthropathies (Seronegative Spondyloarthritides). Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information] Available online at http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec04/ch034/ch034d.html?qt=HLA-B27&alt=sh through http://www.merck.com. Accessed October 2010.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2007). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 544-545.

Waheed N. HLA-B27 associated uveitis. Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundations, ©2008. Available online at http://www.uveitis.org/medical/articles/case/hlab27.html through http://www.uveitis.org. Accessed Nov 2010.

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