Genetics of Hypersensitivity

  • John W. Steinke
Part of the Allergy Frontiers book series (ALLERGY, volume 1)

Over 100 years have passed since it was first recognized that asthma and allergic diseases have a genetic component. The genetic involvement was suggested from observations that allergic subjects had a higher incidence of positive family histories of disease when compared to families without disease [1, 2]. More recent studies have shown that a child has a 33% chance of developing allergies if one parent has allergies and a 70% chance if both parents are allergic. Evidence for linkage to asthma is not as robust, as there is only a 15% chance of a child developing asthma if one parent has the disease. While the concept of allergic disorders having a familial predisposition has been recognized, defining the genetic mechanism has proven more challenging. It is now accepted that allergies and asthma are not only complex genetic disorders, defined as disorders that have numerous contributing genes, each having variable degrees of involvement in any given individual, but also multi-factorial in origin, involving interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental exposures include allergen exposure, second hand cigarette smoke, pollutants, low birth weight and infectious agents. This review will first discuss gene association studies and explore some of the problems associated with them. The focus will then shift towards the future of genetic studies in asthma and allergy including pharmacogenetics, gene-environmental interactions, gene—gene interactions and epigenetics.


Allergy Clin Immunol Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness CD14 Promoter Endotoxin Exposure ADAM33 Gene 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Steinke
    • 1
  1. 1.Asthma and Allergic Disease Center, Beirne Carter Center for Immunology ResearchUniversity of Virginia Health SystemsCharlottesville

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