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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • CD14;
  • endotoxin;
  • IgE;
  • TLR4

Background:  Endotoxin, with its potential to enhance type 1 immunity, is a significant player in the hygiene hypothesis. The combined effects of the genetic variants of various molecules in the endotoxin response pathway on asthma related phenotypes are largely unknown.

Objective:  To investigate the effects of the genetic variants of CD14 and TLR4 genes on asthma phenotypes in a large number of asthmatic children.

Methods:  613 asthmatic children were genotyped at the CD14-C159T, TLR4-A896G and TLR4-C1196T loci. IgE, eosinophil numbers and FEV1 were compared in 327 children who were not on any controller medications and were symptom free. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the factors associated with total IgE.

Results:  Among children with atopic asthma, total IgE levels were significantly different among the three genotypes in the co-dominant model [CC: 435 kU/l (interquartile range: 146–820); CT: 361 (140–710); TT 204 (98–435), P = 0.035]. TT genotype was significantly and independently associated with lower IgE levels (OR: 0.5 95%; CI = 0.28–0.90, P = 0.021). Both TLR4-A896G and TLR4-C1196T polymorphisms were more frequent in the mild asthma group with atopy (P = 0.032, 0.018, respectively). The combined effects of the genetic variants in CD14 and TLR4 genes did not improve the observed associations.

Conclusion:  Our study demonstrates that the CD14-C159T promoter variant influences total IgE levels and also indicates that the T allele has a more profound effect on total IgE in children with atopic asthma. Polymorphisms in the TLR4 gene may be associated with milder forms of disease in atopic asthmatics in the population studied.