Resolving the etiology of atopic disorders by using genetic analysis of racial ancestry

Jayanta Gupta, Elisabet Johansson, Jonathan A. Bernstein, Ranajit Chakraborty, Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, Marc E. Rothenberg, Tesfaye B. Mersha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Atopic dermatitis (AD), food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and asthma are common atopic disorders of complex etiology. The frequently observed atopic march from early AD to asthma, allergic rhinitis, or both later in life and the extensive comorbidity of atopic disorders suggest common causal mechanisms in addition to distinct ones. Indeed, both disease-specific and shared genomic regions exist for atopic disorders. Their prevalence also varies among races; for example, AD and asthma have a higher prevalence in African Americans when compared with European Americans. Whether this disparity stems from true genetic or race-specific environmental risk factors or both is unknown. Thus far, the majority of the genetic studies on atopic diseases have used populations of European ancestry, limiting their generalizability. Large-cohort initiatives and new analytic methods, such as admixture mapping, are currently being used to address this knowledge gap. Here we discuss the unique and shared genetic risk factors for atopic disorders in the context of ancestry variations and the promise of high-throughput “-omics”–based systems biology approach in providing greater insight to deconstruct their genetic and nongenetic etiologies. Future research will also focus on deep phenotyping and genotyping of diverse racial ancestry, gene-environment, and gene-gene interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-699
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • -omics
  • Atopic march
  • admixture mapping
  • allergic rhinitis
  • asthma
  • atopic dermatitis
  • food allergy
  • gene-environment interaction
  • phenotyping
  • racial ancestry


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