Researchers have mapped 41 loci that increase the risk of developing allergic rhinitis, 20 of which had not previously been associated with the condition.
The new study, published in Nature Genetics, is the largest ever genetic study of allergic rhinitis.
The researchers carried out a meta-analysis of allergic rhinitis in 59,762 cases and 152,358 controls of European ancestry and identified a total of 41 risk loci for allergic rhinitis, which were confirmed in a replication phase study of 60,720 cases and 618,527 controls.
The findings may provide novel targets for the treatment and prevention of allergic rhinitis.
The researchers also found an overlap between risk genes for allergic rhinitis and risk genes for autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
“It seems there are some common factors in the western lifestyle that are causing these illnesses to become more widespread, but we haven't yet understood why. The genetic overlap we have observed seems to suggest that it is the same genes that trigger these illnesses, at least in part,” said study author Klaus Bønnelykke from the University of Copenhagen.
The researchers now plan to examine how genes and environmental factors interact in the development of allergic rhinitis.