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Importance of genetic factors in the etiology of atopic dermatitis: A twin study

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The susceptibility to develop atopic dermatitis can be attributed both to genetic and environmental causes. We estimated the relative impact of genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of atopic dermatitis in a population-based sample of twins. From the birth cohorts of 1953–1982 who were enrolled in The Danish Twin Registry, a total of 11,515 twin pairs were identified in a nationwide questionnaire survey. Subjects were classified as atopic dermatitis cases when responding affirmatively to the question, “Do you have, or have you ever had, eczema in the folds of your elbows or knees?” Latent factor models of genetic and environmental influences were fitted to the observed data using maximum likelihood methods. The overall lifetime prevalence of atopic dermatitis was 7.3%. A cotwin of an affected identical twin had a sevenfold increased risk of atopic dermatitis compared with a threefold increased risk among cotwins of an affected fraternal twin, relative to the general population. Genes accounted for 82% and nonshared environmental factors accounted for 18% of the individual susceptibility to develop atopic dermatitis. The same genes contributed to the susceptibility to atopic dermatitis both in male and female patients (p = 0.98). The estimates were adjusted for age. The susceptibility to develop atopic dermatitis is attributable to mainly genetic differences between people. However, differences in environmental exposures also are of importance.
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Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; environment; genetics; prevalence; susceptibility; twin study

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2: Department of Cardiology and Respiratory Medicine, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, 3: The Danish Twin Registry, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, 4: Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Haderslev Hospital, Haderslev, Denmark, and 5: Department of Respiratory Medicine, Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2007-09-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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