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Respiration. 2007;74(1):8-12.

Genetic predisposition to asthma and atopy.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece.


A large number of studies have tried to identify heritable components in the susceptibility to asthma and atopy phenotypes. This review examines the evidence of multigenetic inheritance for these conditions. We identified in the literature at least 372 gene-disease association studies for asthma and 124 for atopy published in the last 6 years. Gene-environment analyses were performed in 41 and 14 articles, respectively, in the same time period. Many postulated associations have been probed with limited sample sizes and will require more extensive replication and large-scale evidence. Meta-analyses have been performed for polymorphisms in 5 genes and provide modest evidence for genetic association of asthma with ADAM33 and TNFA gene polymorphisms. Meta-analyses of linkage studies show that it is unlikely to detect strong linkage peaks for asthma susceptibility. However, linkage was claimed between loci on chromosomes 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 15 and total serum IgE levels. Careful definitions and standardization of phenotypes across teams of investigators are important to endorse. New large-scale testing platforms may offer new opportunities for discovering susceptibility gene variants, but they need to be coupled with careful study design, international collaboration, and possibly also dissection of gene-environment interactions.

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