The genetic etiology of eosinophilic esophagitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 Jan;145(1):9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.11.013.


Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic allergic disease associated with marked mucosal eosinophil accumulation. Multiple studies have reported a strong familial component to EoE, with the presence of EoE increasing the risk for other family members with EoE. Epidemiologic studies support an important role for environmental risk factors as modulators of genetic risk. In a small percentage of cases, including patients who have Mendelian diseases with co-occurrent EoE, rare genetic variation with large effect sizes could mediate EoE and explain multigenerational incidence in families. Common genetic risk variants mediate genetic risk for the majority of patients with EoE. Across the 31 reported independent EoE risk loci (P < 10-5), most of the EoE risk variants are located in between genes (36.7%) or within the introns of genes (42.4%). Although some variants do change the amino acid sequence of genes (2.2%), only 3 of the 31 EoE risk loci harbor an amino acid-changing variant. Thus most EoE risk loci are outside of the coding regions of genes, suggesting a key role for gene regulation in patients with EoE, which is consistent with most other complex diseases.

Keywords: Eosinophilic esophagitis; genetics; genome-wide association study; heritability; single nucleotide polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / epidemiology
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / genetics*
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / immunology
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors