Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Toll-like receptor gene polymorphisms are associated with allergic rhinitis: a case control study

Daniel Nilsson12*, Anand Kumar Andiappan3, Christer Halldén24, Wang De Yun5, Torbjörn Säll6, Chew Fook Tim3 and Lars-Olaf Cardell1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of ENT Diseases, Department of Clinical Sciences, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Biomedicine, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden

3 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Science Drive 4, Singapore, Singapore, 117543

4 Department of Laboratory medicine, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden

5 Department of Otolaryngology, National University of Singapore, 10 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore, Singapore, 119260

6 Department of Cell and Organism Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

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BMC Medical Genetics 2012, 13:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-66

Published: 2 August 2012



The Toll-like receptor proteins are important in host defense and initiation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. A number of studies have identified associations between genetic variation in the Toll-like receptor genes and allergic disorders such as asthma and allergic rhinitis. The present study aim to search for genetic variation associated with allergic rhinitis in the Toll-like receptor genes.


A first association analysis genotyped 73 SNPs in 182 cases and 378 controls from a Swedish population. Based on these results an additional 24 SNPs were analyzed in one Swedish population with 352 cases and 709 controls and one Chinese population with 948 cases and 580 controls.


The first association analysis identified 4 allergic rhinitis-associated SNPs in the TLR7-TLR8 gene region. Subsequent analysis of 24 SNPs from this region identified 7 and 5 significant SNPs from the Swedish and Chinese populations, respectively. The corresponding risk-associated haplotypes are significant after Bonferroni correction and are the most common haplotypes in both populations. The associations are primarily detected in females in the Swedish population, whereas it is seen in males in the Chinese population. Further independent support for the involvement of this region in allergic rhinitis was obtained from quantitative skin prick test data generated in both populations.


Haplotypes in the TLR7-TLR8 gene region were associated with allergic rhinitis in one Swedish and one Chinese population. Since this region has earlier been associated with asthma and allergic rhinitis in a Danish linkage study this speaks strongly in favour of this region being truly involved in the development of this disease.

Allergic rhinitis; Toll-like receptor; Polymorphism; Genetics; Haplotype; Case–control