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BACKGROUND: The innate immune system is essential for host survival because of its ability to recognize invading pathogens and mount defensive responses. OBJECTIVES: We sought to identify genetic associations of innate immunity genes with atopy and asthma and interactions with early viral infections (first 12 months of life) in a high-risk birth cohort. METHODS: Three Canadian family-based studies and 1 Australian population-based case-control study (n = 5565) were used to investigate associations of 321 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 26 innate immunity genes with atopy, asthma, atopic asthma, and airway hyperresponsiveness. Interactions between innate immunity genes and early viral exposure to 3 common viruses (parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and picornavirus) were examined in the Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study by using both an affected-only family-based transmission disequilibrium test and case-control methods. RESULTS: In a joint analysis of all 4 cohorts, IL-1 receptor 2 (IL1R2) and Toll-like receptor 1 (TLR1) SNPs were associated with atopy after correction for multiple comparisons. In addition, an NFKBIA SNP was associated with atopic asthma. Six SNPs (rs1519309 [TLR3], rs740044 [ILIR2], rs4543123 [TLR1], rs5741812 [LBP], rs917998 [IL18RAP], and rs3136641 [NFKBIB]) were significant (P < .05, confirmed with 30,000 permutations) in both the combined analysis of main genetic effects and SNP-virus interaction analyses in both case-control and family-based methods. The TLR1 variant (rs4543123) was associated with both multiple viruses (respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus) and multiple phenotypes. CONCLUSION: We have identified novel susceptibility genes for asthma and related traits and interactions between these genes and early-life viral infections.

Original publication




Journal article


J Allergy Clin Immunol

Publication Date





1284 - 1293


Asthma, Australia, Canada, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Immunity, Innate, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Polymorphism, Genetic, Receptors, Interleukin-1, Toll-Like Receptor 1, Virus Diseases