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A genome-wide meta-analysis of genetic variants associated with allergic rhinitis and grass sensitization and their interaction with birth order

      Background

      Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis (AR) is a chronic disorder associated with IgE sensitization to grass. The underlying genetic variants have not been studied comprehensively. There is overwhelming evidence that those who have older siblings have less AR, although the mechanism for this remains unclear.

      Objective

      We sought to identify common genetic variant associations with prevalent AR and grass sensitization using existing genome-wide association study (GWAS) data and to determine whether genetic variants modify the protective effect of older siblings.

      Method

      Approximately 2.2 million genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms were investigated in 4 large European adult cohorts for AR (3,933 self-reported cases vs 8,965 control subjects) and grass sensitization (2,315 cases vs 10,032 control subjects).

      Results

      Three loci reached genome-wide significance for either phenotype. The HLA variant rs7775228, which cis-regulates HLA-DRB4, was strongly associated with grass sensitization and weakly with AR (Pgrass = 1.6 × 10−9; PAR = 8.0 × 10−3). Variants in a locus near chromosome 11 open reading frame 30 (C11orf30) and leucine-rich repeat containing 32 (LRRC32), which was previously associated with atopic dermatitis and eczema, were also strongly associated with both phenotypes (rs2155219; Pgrass = 9.4 × 10−9; PAR = 3.8 × 10−8). The third genome-wide significant variant was rs17513503 (Pgrass = 1.2 × 10−8; PAR = 7.4 × 10−7) which was located near transmembrane protein 232 (TMEM232) and solute carrier family 25, member 46 (SLC25A46). Twelve further loci with suggestive associations were also identified. Using a candidate gene approach, where we considered variants within 164 genes previously thought to be important, we found variants in 3 further genes that may be of interest: thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), Toll-like receptor 6 (TLR6) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 1 (NOD1/CARD4). We found no evidence for variants that modified the effect of birth order on either phenotype.

      Conclusions

      This relatively large meta-analysis of GWASs identified few loci associated with AR and grass sensitization. No birth order interaction was identified in the current analyses.

      Key words

      Abbreviations used:

      AR (Allergic rhinitis), B58C (British 1958 Birth Cohort), ECRHS (European Community Respiratory Health Survey), GWAS (Genome-wide association study), NFBC1966 (Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966), NOD1 (Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 1), SAPALDIA (Swiss Study on Air Pollution and Lung Disease in Adults), SLC25A46 (Solute carrier family 25 member 46), SNP (Single nucleotide polymorphism), STAT6 (Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6), TLR6 (Toll-like receptor 6), TMEM232 (Transmembrane protein 232), TSLP (Thymic stromal lymphopoietin)
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