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Genes Immun. 2004 Jan;5(1):41-5.

Toll-like receptor 4 polymorphism and severity of atopy in asthmatics.

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Asthma Genetics Laboratory, Division of Human Genetics and Infection, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


Endotoxin exposure may have a protective effect against asthma and atopy. An Asp299Gly polymorphism in the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) gene reduces responsiveness to endotoxin. This study determined the effect of TLR4 polymorphism on the risk and severity of asthma and atopy. In all, 336 UK Caucasian families with > or = 2 affected sibs (physician's diagnosis of asthma and current medication use) and 179 Caucasians without asthma or a family history of asthma were genotyped using ARMS-PCR. No association of the TLR4 polymorphism was found with the risk of developing asthma, either in parent-affected sibling trios, or in case-control analyses (P>0.05). In the first affected asthmatic siblings, the atopy severity score (based on size and number of positive skin-prick tests and specific IgE) was higher in those with the Asp/Gly or Gly/Gly genotypes (mean 1.8, s.d. 1.1, n=39) compared to those with the Asp/Asp genotype (mean 1.2, s.d. 1.0, n=279) (P=0.003, t-test). No associations were found with total IgE, FEV(1) % predicted, slope of FEV(1) response to methacholine or asthma severity score (P>0.05). This study confirms the previously observed lack of association of TLR4 polymorphisms with asthma. In contrast, the findings suggest that genetically determined hyporesponsiveness to endotoxin may increase atopy severity.

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