Researchers suspect genetic link to most common allergies

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins' Children's Center and Institute of Genetic Medicine believe that a genetic aberration in TGF-beta signaling may be to blame for many, if not most, common allergies.

The team believes they have linked a faulty genetic pathway, already known for a role in connective tissue disorders, with several allergy types.

The report was published in Science Translational Medicine and outlines the research team's findings.

Studying a possible common link among several types of allergies

The team first noticed the possibility of a connection when studying patients with Loeys-Dietz syndrome, finding that these individuals had a higher than normal rate of allergies to go with their malady. This was already known of those who have Marfan syndrome, another genetic issue with TGF-beta signal aberrations. Putting them together, the team realized that this may be a common link for many types of allergies.

Research showed that the patients with moderate to severe allergic reactions were high in T-cell counts, a common issue for allergy sufferers and those with hyperactive immune systems. Patients with TGF-beta will also often have overactive immune systems. This is known to be a marker for those with allergic reactions to otherwise innocent substances.

"We have evidence that the same glitch in TGF-beta that is responsible for some of the clinical manifestations seen in Marfan and Loeys-Dietz diseases also lies behind the cascade of events that culminates in the development of conditions like asthma, food allergies and eczema," Pamela Frischmeyer-Guerrerio, MD, PhD, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said in a statement.

You will find the study here on sciencemag.org.

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