Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disorder, affecting up to 15% of children in industrialized countries. Toll-interacting protein (TOLLIP) is an inhibitory adaptor protein within the toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway, a part of the innate immune system that recognizes structurally conserved molecular patterns of microbial pathogens, leading to an inflammatory immune response.
Methods: In order to detect a possible role of TOLLIP variation in the pathogenesis of AD, we screened the entire coding sequence of the TOLLIP gene by SSCP in 50 AD patients. We identified an amino acid exchange in exon 6 (Ala222Ser) and a synonymous variation in exon 4 (Pro139Pro). Subsequently, these two variations and four additional non-coding polymorphisms (-526 C/G, two polymorphisms in intron 1 and one in the 3'UTR) were genotyped in 317 AD patients and 224 healthy controls.
Results: The -526G allele showed borderline association with AD in our cohort (p = 0.012; significance level after correction for multiple testing 0.0102). Haplotype analysis did not yield additional information. Evaluation of mRNA expression by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in six probands with the CC and six with the GG genotype at the -526 C/G locus did not reveal significant differences between genotypes.
Conclusion: Variation in the TOLLIP gene may play a role in the pathogenesis of AD. Yet, replication studies in other cohorts and populations are warranted to confirm these association results.