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Allergy. 2010 Feb;65(2):199-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02111.x. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

TLR-related pathway analysis: novel gene-gene interactions in the development of asthma and atopy.

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Department of Pulmonology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.



The toll-like receptor (TLR)-related pathway is important in host defence and may be crucial in the development of asthma and atopy. Numerous studies have shown associations of TLR-related pathway genes with asthma and atopy phenotypes. So far it has not been investigated whether gene-gene interactions in this pathway contribute to atopy and asthma development.


One hundred and sixty-nine haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of 29 genes (i.e. membrane and intracellular receptors, TLR4 or lipopolysaccharide-binding/facilitating proteins, adaptors, interleukin-1 receptor associated kinases, kinases, chaperone molecules, transcription factors and inhibitors) were analysed for single- and multilocus associations with atopy [total and specific immunglobulin E (IgE) at 1-2 and 6-8 years] and asthma (6-8 years). A total of 3062 Dutch children from the birth cohorts PIAMA, PREVASC and KOALA (Allergenic study) were investigated. Chi-squared test, logistic regression and the data mining approach multifactor dimensionality reduction method (MDR) were used in analysis.


Several genes in the TLR-related pathway were associated with atopy and/or asthma [e.g. IL1RL1, BPI, NOD1, NOD2 and MAP3K7IP1]. Multiple, single associations were found with the phenotypes under study. MDR analysis showed novel, significant gene-gene interactions in association with atopy and asthma phenotypes (e.g. IL1RL1 and TLR4 with sIgE to indoor allergens and IRAK1, NOD1 and MAP3K7IP1 with asthma). Interestingly, gene-gene interactions were identified with SNPs that did not have an effect on their own.


Our unbiased approach provided suggestive evidence for interaction between several TLR-related pathway genes important in atopy and/or asthma development and pointed to novel genes.

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