Twenty-five histocompatibility antigens have been measured in 100 coal miners with pneumoconiosis attending a pneumoconiosis medical panel and the results compared with a panel of 200 normal volunteers not exposed to dust. Chest radiographs were read independently by three readers according to the ILO U/C classification. On a combined score, 40 men were thought to have simple pneumoconiosis and 60 men complicated pneumoconiosis. The number of antigens tested and associations between antigens caused difficulties in assessing the statistical significance of differences in prevalence of antigens between groups of men. Using stringent criteria for statistical significance, no significant differences were found in antigen prevalences between miners and controls, or miners with simple or complicated pneumoconiosis. When a less stringent statistical approach was applied, three antigens appeared to have abnormal prevalences in these 100 miners by comparison with the normal volunteers. More detailed examination of these antigen prevalences in relation to radiographic category of pneumoconiosis did not provide any supportive evidence that these slight associations were of statistical or clinical significance. Reports on histocompatibility antigens in miners with pneumoconiosis are reviewed briefly and the results compared. There is no good evidence that any of the histocompatibility antigens so far tested are associated with a clinically important altered risk of simple or complicated pneumoconiosis when dust is inhaled.
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