Standard Article

Susceptibility to Human Infectious Diseases, Genetics of

  1. Richard A Kaslow,
  2. Sadeep Shrestha,
  3. Jianming ‘James’ Tang

Published Online: 30 APR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020761



How to Cite

Kaslow, R. A., Shrestha, S. and Tang, J. ‘. 2008. Susceptibility to Human Infectious Diseases, Genetics of. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 APR 2008


Microbial pathogens have shaped portions of the human genome over the millennia of its evolution, resulting in human genetic diversity and differential susceptibility to infectious diseases. Distinguishing characteristics of infectious diseases permit and require specific approaches to the investigation of genetic influences that can differ substantially from highly favourable to highly unfavourable. Expanding knowledge and improved technology are revealing important deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence and structural polymorphism in critical pathways of the innate and acquired immune systems. Reports are proliferating on relationships of responses to infection with variants of genes that encode secreted cytokines and lectins along with their receptors, intracellular signalling molecules, components of the antigen-presenting machinery and other effector or regulatory products. These notable accomplishments foreshadow both revelations and challenges in dissecting the complex host genetic mediation of differential responses to infectious diseases in individuals and populations.


  • antigen presentation;
  • genetic susceptibility;
  • immune response;
  • infectious disease;
  • innate immunity;
  • acquired immunity