Do you often experience sneezing or a runny nose when you wake up in the morning? This could be a reaction to allergens in your home’s atmosphere. House dust-mites are microscopic creatures which live within the home where they can feed on shed skin cells of people and pets. They are a common allergen known to induce allergic rhinitis (AR), which is an inflammation of the nasal airways in response to a person with a sensitive immune system inhaling an allergen. Dust mites often found in beds, carpets or furniture where the environment is warm and humid. Being allergic to mites may even cause sleep disturbances and asthma flare-ups.
Three recent genome wide association studies (GWAS) in European and North American study populations have supported the idea that certain allergies may be inherited. These studies along with replication studies in Swedish and Chinese populations, have collectively identified 47 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) related to AR and its cousin allergic sensitization (AS). In an effort to better understand the genetic risk factors for allergen-specific AR, researchers performed a third replication study in a Lithuanian study population.
Researchers conducted skin prick tests for common inhalant allergens such as molds, cat and dog dander, dust mites, and several types of pollen. By cross-examining these allergen results with genotyping data of all participants, researchers were able to identify 3 SNPs in patients sensitive to multiple allergens, and 10 SNPs in patients sensitive to a certain allergen. Among their findings was a significantly increased risk of experiencing allergies to mites with the presence of at least one G allele of rs10174949, an SNP located near the inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (ID2) gene.
Although this was a relatively small cohort study, researchers were able to successfully identify 13 SNPs related to common inhalant allergens. Further research focusing on allergen-specific AR and AS are needed to deepen our understanding of the genetic risk factors and how more personalized treatments can benefit those suffering from allergies. If you are curious, you can read more about the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26214689
Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for being allergic to mites? You can login to your Genomelink dashboard to see this new genetic trait.