Strong genetic link to hayfever confirmed

hayfever allergic rhinitis sneezing blowing nose

Australian scientists have helped to uncover 41 genetic regions, which are estimated to account for about 40% of the genetic risk of hayfever

A large international study, including contributions from Australian researchers, has looked into the underlying disease mechanisms behind allergic rhinitis.

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory disorder of the nasal mucosa, mediated by allergic hypersensitivity responses to environmental allergens.

In a meta-analysis of 59,762 cases of allergic rhinitis and 152,358 controls – in people with European ancestry – researchers found 41 gene regions linked to the disorder.

This includes 20 not previous associated with allergic rhinitis, which were confirmed in a replication phase of 60,720 cases and 618,527 controls.

Altogether they conducted a discovery meta-analysis of 16.5 million genetic markers from 18 studies.

The proportion of allergic rhinitis in the general population attributable to the 41 identified gene regions was estimated at 39% (95% CI, 26-50%).

Those people with the highest genetic risk in this study had about twice the rate of hayfever as those in the lowest risk group.

Researchers found a strong correlation between allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitisation (the presence of allergen-specific IgE).

“This result suggests that allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitisation share biological mechanisms,” say the authors in their letter published in Nature Genetics.

They also found a moderate correlation with asthma and a weaker correlation with eczema.

The underlying causes of allergic rhinitis are still not understood, and prevention of the disease is not possible, say the authors.

Future studies of these identified genes and regions might identify novel targets for treatment and prevention of allergic rhinitis.

See the full study here

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