Purpose of the review
Food allergy (FA), a growing clinical and public health problem in the U.S. and worldwide, is likely determined by multiple environmental and genetic factors. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent advances in FA genetic research.
There is compelling evidence that genetic factors may play a role in FA. However, the specific genetic loci that may modulate individual risk of FA remain to be identified. To date, only a limited number of candidate gene association studies of FA have been reported. Polymorphism(s) in 9 genes have been associated with the incidence of FA or FA severity in at least one study. But most of these findings remain to be replicated in independent populations. In contrast, there are considerable advances in genetics of other allergic diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. While asthma and atopic dermatitis often co-exist with FA, the relevance of their candidate genes to FA remains to be evaluated.
Genetics in FA is a promising research area but is still in its infancy. More studies are needed to dissect susceptible genes of FA. A genome-wide association approach may serve as a powerful tool to identify novel genes related to FA. Furthermore, the role of gene-environment interaction, gene-gene interaction, and epigenetics in FA remains largely unexplored. Given the complex nature of FA, future studies need to integrate environment, genomics and epigenomics in order to better understand the multi-facet etiology and biological mechanisms of FA.
Keywords: Food allergy, genetics, Allergic diseases