Study of Toll-like receptor gene loci in sarcoidosis.

M Schürmann, R Kwiatkowski, M Albrecht, A Fischer, J Hampe, J Müller-Quernheim, E Schwinger, S Schreiber
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Clinical and experimental immunology : an official journal of the British Society for Immunology
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Sarcoidosis is a multi-factorial systemic disease of granulomatous inflammation. Current concepts of the aetiology include interactions of unknown environmental triggers with an inherited susceptibility. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are main components of innate immunity and therefore TLR genes are candidate susceptibility genes in sarcoidosis. Ten members of the human TLR gene family have been identified and mapped to seven chromosomal segments. The aim of this study was to investigate all known TLR gene loci for genetic linkage with sarcoidosis and to follow positive signals with different methods. We analysed linkage of TLR gene loci to sarcoidosis by use of closely flanking microsatellite markers in 83 families with 180 affected siblings. We found significant linkage between sarcoidosis and markers of the TLR4 gene locus on chromosome 9q (non-parametric linkage score 2.63, P = 0.0043). No linkage was found for the remaining TLR gene loci. We subsequently genotyped 1203 sarcoidosis patients from 997 families, 1084 relatives and 537 control subjects for four single nucleotide polymorphisms of TLR4, including Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile. This genotype data set was studied by case-control comparisons and transmission disequilibrium tests, but showed no significant results. In summary, TLR4 - w ith significant genetic linkage results - appears to be the most promising member of the TLR gene family for further investigation in sarcoidosis. However, our results do not confirm the TLR4 polymorphisms Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile as susceptibility markers. Our results rather point to another as yet unidentified variant within or close to TLR4 that might confer susceptibility to sarcoidosis.