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1.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Peanut Allergy-Specific Loci and Evidence of Epigenetic Mediation in U.S. Children 
Nature communications  2015;6:6304.
Food allergy (FA) affects 2–10% of U.S. children and is a growing clinical and public health problem. Here we conduct the first genome-wide association study of well-defined FA, including specific subtypes (peanut, milk, and egg) in 2,759 U.S. participants (1,315 children; 1,444 parents) from the Chicago Food Allergy Study; and identify peanut allergy (PA)-specific loci in the HLA-DR and -DQ gene region at 6p21.32, tagged by rs7192 (p=5.5×10−8) and rs9275596 (p=6.8×10−10), in 2,197 participants of European ancestry. We replicate these associations in an independent sample of European ancestry. These associations are further supported by meta-analyses across the discovery and replication samples. Both single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are associated with differential DNA methylation levels at multiple CpG sites (p<5×10−8); and differential DNA methylation of the HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DRB1 genes partially mediate the identified SNP-PA associations. This study suggests that the HLA-DR and -DQ gene region likely poses significant genetic risk for PA.
PMCID: PMC4340086  PMID: 25710614
2.  Association between Short Sleep Duration and the Risk of Sensitization to Food and Aero Allergens in Rural Chinese Adolescents 
Both long and short sleep duration have been associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. However, there have been no previous studies investigating the potential relationship between altered sleep duration and allergen sensitization.
To explore the association between sleep duration and sensitization to food and aeroallergens.
This study includes 1534 rural Chinese adolescent twins aged 12 to 21 years who completed standard sleep questionnaires and skin prick tests (SPTs) to 9 food and 5 aeroallergens. Total sleep time was defined as the interval from bedtime to wake-up time minus sleep latency. Sensitization was defined as having at least one positive SPT.
Compared to individuals with the highest (3rd) tertile of sleep duration, those who slept less were more likely to be sensitized to any food allergen with odds ratios (ORs) of 1.9 (95% confidence interval(CI):1.3–2.7) and 1.4 (95%CI:1.0–1.9) for the 1st and 2nd tertiles (trend test Ptrend=3×10−4), respectively. The corresponding ORs for sensitization to any aeroallergen were 1.5 (95%CI: 1.1–2.0) and 1.3 (95%CI:1.0–1.7) (Ptrend=8×10−3). These associations were independent of percent body fat. In addition, we observed a significant dose-response association between the number of positive SPTs and percentage of shortest sleep duration (1st tertile) (Ptrend=1×10−3).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
In this sample of relatively lean rural Chinese adolescents, we found that short sleep duration was associated with increased risk of sensitization to food and aeroallergens, independent of percent body fat. Longitudinal studies are needed to further determine the temporal and causal relationships. If short sleep duration indeed is one of the risk factors for allergic sensitization, the global burden of allergic diseases could be dramatically reduced by providing appropriate guidance on sleep duration for youth.
PMCID: PMC3056931  PMID: 21255141
sleep duration; skin prick test; allergen; sensitization; adolescent
3.  Dissociation between the Prevalence of Atopy and Allergic Disease in Rural China among Children and Adults 
The prevalence of allergic diseases is increasing worldwide, but the reasons are not well understood. Previous studies suggest that this trend may be associated with lifestyle and urbanization.
To describe patterns of sensitization and allergic disease in an unselected agricultural Chinese population.
The data was derived from a community-based twin study in Anqing, China. Skin prick testing was performed to foods and aeroallergens. Atopy was defined as sensitization to ≥1 allergen. Allergic disease was ascertained by self-report. The analysis was stratified by sex and age (children [11-17 years] and adults [≥18 years]) and included 1059 same-sex twin pairs.
Of 2118 subjects, 57.6% were male (n=1220). Ages ranged from 11-71 years; 43.3% were children (n=918). Atopy was observed in 47.2% (n=999) of participants. The most common sensitizing foods were shellfish (16.7%) and peanut (12.3%). The most common sensitizing aeroallergens were dust mite (30.6%) and cockroach (25.2%). Birth order and zygosity had no effect on sensitization rates. Multivariate logistic regression models revealed risk factors for sensitization include age for foods and sex for aeroallergens. The rates of food allergy and asthma were estimated to be <1%.
Atopic sensitization was common in this rural farming Chinese population, particularly to shellfish, peanut, dust mite, and cockroach. The prevalence of allergic disease, in contrast, was quite low.
Clinical Implications
Allergen sensitization was far more common than the rate of self-reported allergic disease in this community. Evidence of sensitization is an inadequate marker of allergic disease and better correlates with clinical disease are needed.
Capsule summary
Among this large unselected Chinese rural farming community, atopy was observed in nearly half of the study subjects, but the rate of allergic disease was comparatively very low.
PMCID: PMC2747487  PMID: 18805578
aeroallergens; rural; farming community; Chinese; food allergens; prevalence; sensitization; skin prick tests
4.  Development of the Chicago Food Allergy Research Surveys: assessing knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents, physicians, and the general public 
Parents of children with food allergy, primary care physicians, and members of the general public play a critical role in the health and well-being of food-allergic children, though little is known about their knowledge and perceptions of food allergy. The purpose of this paper is to detail the development of the Chicago Food Allergy Research Surveys to assess food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs among these three populations.
From 2006–2008, parents of food-allergic children, pediatricians, family physicians, and adult members of the general public were recruited to assist in survey development. Preliminary analysis included literature review, creation of initial content domains, expert panel review, and focus groups. Survey validation included creation of initial survey items, expert panel ratings, cognitive interviews, reliability testing, item reduction, and final validation. National administration of the surveys is ongoing.
Nine experts were assembled to oversee survey development. Six focus groups were held: 2/survey population, 4–9 participants/group; transcripts were reviewed via constant comparative methods to identify emerging themes and inform item creation. At least 220 participants per population were recruited to assess the relevance, reliability, and utility of each survey item as follows: cognitive interviews, 10 participants; reliability testing ≥ 10; item reduction ≥ 50; and final validation, 150 respondents.
The Chicago Food Allergy Research surveys offer validated tools to assess food allergy knowledge and perceptions among three distinct populations: a 42 item parent tool, a 50 item physician tool, and a 35 item general public tool. No such tools were previously available.
PMCID: PMC2736935  PMID: 19664230

Results 1-4 (4)