Get access

Common human Toll-like receptor 9 polymorphisms and haplotypes: association with atopy and functional relevance


Holger Hackstein, Institute for Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Justus-Liebig University, Langhansstrasse 7, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.


Background Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is a pattern-recognition receptor that detects unmethylated CpG motifs prevalent in bacterial and viral DNA. TLR9 stimulation is a key event after bacterial infection, triggering innate immunity and T-helper type 1 skewed adaptive immunity. Synthetic CpG-oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODNs) represent a promising and novel class of immune adjuvants for allergy treatment, vaccination, and cancer therapy. However, common functional TLR9 gene variants could interfere with the clinical utilization of CpG-ODN in immunotherapy. Recently, a possible association of TLR9 polymorphism C-1237T with asthma has been reported.

Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate whether TLR9 polymorphisms or haplotypes have functional relevance and are associated with atopy.

Methods We genotyped five common TLR9 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in promoter, exon, and intron regions of the gene in 527 healthy blood donors, and estimated four common haplotypes. The total IgE and specific IgE levels against the most common aeroallergens were measured (n=303). IFN-α production by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) was analysed after stimulation with TLR9 ligand CpG-ODN (n=220).

Results No significant influence of common TLR9 polymorphisms and haplotypes on the total and specific IgE levels was found. Functional analysis of CpG-ODN-induced IFN-α did not indicate a significant role for common TLR9 gene polymorphisms in TLR9 function.

Conclusion We conclude that common genetic differences in the TLR9 gene exert no major influence on allergy susceptibility, and are unlikely to have on impact on clinical application of CpG-ODNs.

Get access to the full text of this article