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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2009 Dec;21(6):770-6. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32833252dc.

Genetics of food allergy.

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Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program, Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Children's Memorial Hospital and Children's Memorial Research Center, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.



Food allergy, a growing clinical and public health problem in the United States and worldwide, is likely determined by multiple environmental and genetic factors. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent advances in food allergy genetic research.


There is compelling evidence that genetic factors may play a role in food allergy. However, the specific genetic loci that may modulate individual risk of food allergy remain to be identified. To date, only a limited number of candidate gene association studies of food allergy have been reported. Polymorphism(s) in nine genes have been associated with the incidence of food allergy or food allergy severity in at least one study. But most of these findings remain to be replicated in independent populations. In contrast, there are considerable advances in genetics of other allergic diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. Although asthma and atopic dermatitis often coexist with food allergy, the relevance of their candidate genes to food allergy remains to be evaluated.


Genetics in food allergy is a promising research area but is still in its infancy. More studies are needed to dissect susceptible genes of food allergy. A genome-wide association approach may serve as a powerful tool to identify novel genes related to food allergy. Furthermore, the role of gene-environment interaction, gene-gene interaction, and epigenetics in food allergy remains largely unexplored. Given the complex nature of food allergy, future studies need to integrate environment, genomics, and epigenomics in order to better understand the multifaceted etiology and biological mechanisms of food allergy.

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