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Br J Dermatol. 1997 Jan;136(1):1-5.

Genetic studies of atopy and atopic dermatitis.

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St John's Institute of Dermatology, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.


Atopy and the atopic disorders are likely to result from multifactorial inheritance, with interaction between genetic and environmental factors. It has been proposed that at least two major mechanisms, non-antigen specific (total IgE levels) and antigen specific (specific IgE antibodies and skin tests), regulate the immune response to allergens in humans: firstly, a gene/genes independent of the human leucocyte antigen system which is involved in the regulation of total IgE levels, and secondly, a specific immune response gene/genes associated with major histocompatibility complex class II genes which are involved in antigen-specific mechanisms. Candidate genes have been proposed for both mechanisms and linkage has been found between atopy and at least three different gene loci. This paper reviews the evidence supporting a genetic basis for atopy and atopic dermatitis and outlines recent advances in the molecular genetic mapping of genes associated with these disorders.

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