The immunogenetics of asthma and eczema: a new focus on the epithelium.

Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7BN, UK.
Nature reviews. Immunology (Impact Factor: 33.84). 01/2005; 4(12):978-88. DOI: 10.1038/nri1500
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Asthma and eczema (atopic dermatitis) are the most common chronic diseases of childhood. These diseases are characterized by the production of high levels of immunoglobulin E in response to common allergens. Their development depends on both genetic and environmental factors. Over the past few years, several genes and genetic loci that are associated with increased susceptibility to asthma and atopic dermatitis have been described. Many of these genes are expressed in the mucosa and epidermis, indicating that events at epithelial-cell surfaces might be driving disease processes. This review describes the mechanisms of innate epithelial immunity and the role of microbial factors in providing protection from disease development. Understanding events at the epithelial-cell surface might provide new insights for the development of new treatments for inflammatory epithelial disease.