Association of filaggrin variants with asthma and rhinitis: Is eczema or allergic sensitization status an effect modifier?

Ali H M Ziyab, Wilfried Karmaus, Hongmei Zhang, John W. Holloway, Susan E. Steck, Susan Ewart, Syed Hasan Arshad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Associations of variants of the filaggrin gene, i.e. FLG with asthma and rhinitis have been shown to be modulated by eczema status. However, it is unknown whether allergic sensitization status modifies this association. The aim of this study was to determine whether FLG variants need eczema and/or allergic sensitization as a necessary component to execute adverse effects on coexisting and subsequent asthma and rhinitis.

Methods: In the Isle of Wight birth cohort, repeated measurements of asthma, rhinitis, eczema and allergic sensitization (documented by skinprick tests) were taken in 1,456 children at the ages of 1, 2, 4, 10 and 18 years. Filaggrin haploinsufficiency was defined as having at least the minor allele of R501X, 2282del4 or S3247X variants. log-binomial regression models were used to test associations and statistical interactions.

Results: FLG variants increased the risk of asthma [risk ratio (RR) 1.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-1.80] and rhinitis (RR 1.37, 95% CI 1.16-1.63). In the delayed-effects models, FLG variants plus allergic sensitization' and FLG variants plus eczema' increased the risk of subsequent asthma by 4.93-fold (95% CI 3.61-6.71) and 3.33-fold (95% CI 2.45-4.51), respectively, during the first 18 years of life. In contrast, neither eczema nor allergic sensitization in combination with FLG variants increased the risk of later rhinitis.

Conclusions: Allergic sensitization and eczema modulated the association between FLG variants and asthma but not rhinitis. Our results imply that the mechanisms and pathways through which FLG variants predispose to an increased risk of asthma and rhinitis may be different.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-318
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2014


  • Allergic sensitization
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Filaggrin variants
  • Rhinitis


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