Immune response determined more by genes than environment

twin allegeries

A study of immune traits conducted by researchers from King’s College London looked at samples from almost 500 female twins participating in the TwinsUK cohort.

This large and detailed open access study adds much to the understanding of the human immune system. Among the results are findings that indicate most immune traits are influenced by genes rather than environment. Of the 23,000 immune traits analysed in the trial, nearly three-quarters of them were found to be influenced by genes which is a far higher proportion than previously thought.

It appears that adaptive immune traits – immune responses that develop after exposure to a specific pathogen – are mostly influenced by genetics. Conversely, environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle have a greater influence on the body’s innate immune responses.

The authors suggest their findings could help to form the basis of further research into treatments for various autoimmune diseases.

Reference: Mangino et al. 2017. Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS13850

Open Access article.

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