HLA Genes in Afro-American Colombians (San Basilio de Palenque): The First Free Africans in America

Antonio Arnaiz-Villena1, *, Raquel Reguera1, Carlos Parga-Lozano2, Sedeka Abd-El-Fatah-Khalil3, Luis Monleon3, Luz Barbolla3, Pablo Gomez-Prieto1, Jorge Martínez-Laso1, Carlos Silvera4
1 Department of Immunology, University Complutense, The Madrid Regional Blood Center, Madrid, Spain
2 Department Basic Science, Universidad del Sinú Seccional, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
3 Department of Hematology, The Madrid Regional Blood Center, Madrid, Spain
4 Department of Genetics, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia

© 2009 Arnaiz-Villena et al.;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Departamento de Inmunolo-gia, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, Pabellon 5, planta 4. Avda. Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain; Tel: +34913941632; Fax: +34913017356; E-mail:


An Afro-American semi-isolated Colombian population is studied for its HLA genes: San Basilio de Palenque community in Colombia northern mountains. This community represents the first free Africans in America earning recognition by the Spanish Crown in 1691 AD. Nowadays, they also speak the only extant Bantu-Spanish Creole language over the World; these people have been apart from there neighbours and claim a direct African descent. Their HLA genes were compared with African, Afro-American, Amerindian and worldwide populations by using genetic distances (DA), Neighbour- Joining dendograms and correspondences analyses. Arlequin, DISPAN and VISTA softwares were used for the completion of these computerised calculations. San Basilio de Palenque, a relatively ethnic isolate, is genetically close to other North and South Afro-Americans and to West Africa-Bantu speaking groups (Senegalese; Bubi, Guinea Gulf). Five HLA extended haplotypes are found only in this population: A*02-B*07-DRB1*0801-DQB1*0301, A*02-B*35- DRB1*1304-DQB1*0301, A*02-B*15-DRB1*0302-DQB1*0402, A*01-B*51-DRB1*0301-DQB1*0201, A*68-B*15- DRB1*0102-DQB1*0501. Only very limited gene flow is found from either Amerindians or Europeans, as expected by historical records. Our HLA data may also prove useful for future regional transplant programs and genetic epidemiology of HLA-linked.

Keywords: First Free Afro-Americans, Afro-Americans, HLA, Bantu-Spanish Creole, Creole, Colombia, Transplantation, Genetic Epidemiology.