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Genetic and immunological research in non-European populations provides a better and more complete picture of the functioning of the human immune system
Disease and health are the result of a complex interaction between humans and pathogens. The genetic factors that partially determine host defenses vary greatly between people and populations. This indicates a publicatie in the American Journal of Human Genetics by researchers from the Netherlands, Tanzania and India. More genetic and immunological research in non-European populations provides a better and more complete picture of the functioning of the human immune system.
You don’t get sick alone. It is always a mixture of the host and the guest, for example a person infected with a virus. This infection can proceed very differently. One person gets very sick from the influenza virus while another hardly ever gets it. What about that? What makes one person clear a virus infection without any problems and another person really get sick? For an important part, the explanation lies in our immune system, which can vary greatly for each individual. However, clear differences in immunity can occur between different populations.
immune response regulators
To gain more insight into these differences, Collins-Boehn and colleagues focused their research on the role of genetic factors that regulate cytokine production. Cytokines are an important and early link in coordinating the immune response. Like managers, they determine the immune system’s response to invading pathogens. The group of cytokines includes interferon factors, interleukins, chemokines, and tumor necrosis factors. All of these different factors mean that the cytokine interaction is a complex one, which can also vary greatly for each person and population. “Differences in cytokine response not only determine infectious disease risk but also, for example, susceptibility to infections and autoimmune diseases,” Bowen says.
Cytokine responses in Western European (Caucasian) populations have been studied previously. What is particularly lacking are data on cytokine responses in populations in other geographic regions. Together with Blandina T Mmbaga, Director Kilimanjaro Institute of Clinical Research In Tanzania and colleagues Godfrey Timba and Visla Kolaya, Boahne investigated how these responses develop in healthy Tanzanian adults of East African descent. “We also looked at the underlying genetic differences that can influence cytokine responses,” Mmbaga says. “In other words, are there genetic differences between populations that cause one individual to react differently to infection than another?”
Genetic and immunological differences
Fits search within Human Functional Genome Project (HFGP) investigated the effects of genetic variation in human DNA on physiological processes, with a particular focus on the immune system in human health and disease. Bowen: “The research shows that there are clear differences between European and African populations, both genetically and immunologically. Genetically, for example, we see small differences – called SNPs – between the two groups that affect cytokine production. To put it more simply, we see large differences in The genetic basis of cytokine production for people from Tanzania in East Africa and Western Europe”.
More attention to the non-European population
The results of this study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG), indicate the need for further research in non-European populations. Only in this way can we get a full understanding of the diversity of the human immune system. Therefore, Vinod Kumar, the paper’s final author, calls for the inclusion of underrepresented populations in genetic research to enable new discoveries about the differences in health and disease between individuals and populations.
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- Name of author and/or editor by: radbodomic
- Photographer or photographic agency: INGImages
- Source of this article:: Radbodomic
- What is the URL for this resource?: https://www.radboudumc.nl/nieuws/2022/immuungenetisch-onderzoek-in-diverse-populaties-is-essentieel
- original title: Immunological investigation in diverse populations is essential
- the target audience: Healthcare professionals and students
- Date: 2022-02-16
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