Filaggrin gene defect may also be relevant in peanut allergy

A study by international scientists published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has established a link between the gene Filaggrin and susceptibility to peanut allergy. Peanut allergy has increased in prevalence over the last 30 years, and affects up to 2% of children in the UK.

Dr Sarah Brown, a fellow at Dundee University, which led the study, said that as Filaggrin malfunctions have been linked to asthma, eczema, atopic dermatitis and other atopic diseases, investigating it with regards peanut allergy was a logical next step. Allergic conditions run in families, meaning that inherited genetic factors are important. They found that the Filaggrin gene helps to make the skin a good barrier against allergens and other irritants, but that any mutation in the gene could lead to defects in the skin barrier and a range of allergic conditions.

The study, which involved oral food-challenges with peanut allergic and non-allergic people from England, Netherlands and Ireland suggests that one in five of all peanut allergy sufferers have a Filaggrin defect, and this finding was replicated in a Canadian study. Even though the Filaggrin mutations represent a significant risk factor for IgE-mediate peanut allergy, since gene defects were only found in 20% of peanut allergy cases, more work needs to be done to fully understand the genetic link to allergy.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical immunology

First published in March 2011

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