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The genomics and genetics of human infectious disease susceptibility.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN, United Kingdom.


A genetic basis for interindividual variation in susceptibility to human infectious diseases has been indicated by twin, adoptee, pedigree, and candidate gene studies. This has led to the identification of a small number of strong genetic associations with common variants for malaria, HIV infection, and infectious prion diseases. Numerous other genes have shown less strong associations with these and some other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, leprosy, and persistent hepatitis viral infections. Many immunogenetic loci influence susceptibility to several infectious pathogens. Recent genetic linkage analyses of measures of infection as well as of infectious disease, including some genome-wide scans, have found convincing evidence of genetic linkage to chromosomal regions wherein susceptibility genes have yet to be identified. These studies indicate a highly polygenic basis for susceptibility to many common infectious diseases, with some emerging examples of interaction between variants of specific polymorphic host and pathogen genes.

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