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, 90 (2), 71-83

Current Findings, Challenges and Novel Approaches in Human Genetic Susceptibility to Tuberculosis


Current Findings, Challenges and Novel Approaches in Human Genetic Susceptibility to Tuberculosis

Marlo Möller et al. Tuberculosis (Edinb).


The evidence for a human genetic component in susceptibility to tuberculosis (TB) is incontrovertible. Quite apart from studies of rare disease events illustrating the importance of key genes in humans and animals, TB at the population level is also influenced by the genetics of the host. Heritability of disease concordance and immune responses to mycobacterial antigens has been clearly shown, and ranges up to 71%. Linkage studies, designed to identify major susceptibility genes in a disease, have produced a number of candidate loci but few, except for regions on chromosome 5p15, 20p and 20q, have been replicated. The region on 5p15 regulates the intensity of the response to the tuberculin skin test, and another locus on 11p14 appears to control resistance to the bacterium. In addition, numerous genes and pathways have been implicated in candidate gene association studies, with validation of polymorphisms in IFNG, NRAMP1, and NOS2A and equivocal results for IL10, CCL2, DC-SIGN, P2RX7, VDR, TLR2, TLR9 and SP110. Other more recently researched candidate genes such as TNFRSF1B remain to be validated, preferably in meta-analyses. New approaches have provided early evidence for the importance of gene-gene interactions in regulating resistance to disease, and also the prospect that applying host genetics in the field of vaccinomics could lead to a more targeted approach in designing interventions to aid the human immune system in combating mycobacteria. Genome-wide association studies and admixture mapping are approaches that remain to be applied to TB, and it is not clear, as is the case with other complex diseases, how much of the heritability of the TB susceptibility phenotype will be determined by multiple genes of small effect versus rare variants with disproportionately large effects.

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