Are Genes Responsible for Food Allergies?

Are Genes Responsible for Food Allergies?

dna

Are your genes responsible for your food allergies? A recent study indicates that might be the case.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore identified a region in the human genome associated with peanut allergy in U.S. children.

“We always suspected it, but this is the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) that identified a genetic link to well-defined peanut allergy,” says the study’s principal investigator, Xiaobin Wang, MD.

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignleft” width=”200″ ]”In their study, Wang and her colleagues analyzed DNA samples from 2,759 participants (1,315 children and 1,444 of their biological parents) enrolled in the Chicago Food Allergy Study. Most of the children had some kind of food allergy. They scanned approximately 1 million genetic markers across the human genome, searching for clues to which genes might contribute to increased risk of developing food allergies, including peanut. They found that a genomic region harboring genes such as HLA-DB and HLA-DR and located on chromosome six is linked to peanut allergy. This study suggests that the HLA-DR and -DQ gene region probably poses significant genetic risk for peanut allergy as it accounted for about 20 percent of peanut allergy in the study population.

Not everyone with these mutations, however, develops peanut allergy, and researchers wondered why. One possible reason, they determined, was that epigenetic changes may also play a role. Epigenetic changes, in which a methyl group attaches itself to the DNA, alter the expression of a gene without altering its underlying code. The levels of DNA methylation regulate whether people with genetic susceptibility to the peanut allergy actually developed it.”[/box]

For more information on the study, click on Do Genes Play a Role in Peanut Allergies?

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