• Open Access

An updated systematic review of the role of host genetics in susceptibility to influenza


Correspondence: Peter Horby, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme, Hanoi, Vietnam. Email: peter.horby@gmail.com


The World Health Organization has identified studies of the role of host genetics on susceptibility to severe influenza as a priority. A systematic review was conducted in June 2011 to summarise the evidence on the role of host genetics in susceptibility to influenza, and this report updates that previously published review. Animal studies suggest that genetic control of susceptibility to severe influenza in mice is complex and not controlled by a single locus, but there is encouraging evidence that some of the host genetic determinants of susceptibility to severe disease may be common across influenza subtypes. Although a number of studies on genetic susceptibility to influenza in humans have been published recently, all are underpowered and unreplicated, so do not provide robust statistical evidence of an association between the identified genetic loci and susceptibility. One study does however present convincing functional evidence for an important role for IFITM3 in susceptibility to severe influenza in mice, and some evidence that this may also be important in human A/H1N1/pdm2009 infection.