Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gene–Environment Interactions in Human Disease

A nice current review in TiG on the importance of assessing GxE.

Ober C, Vercelli D. Gene-environment interactions in human disease: nuisance or opportunity? Trends Genet. 2011 Mar;27(3):107-15. [PubMed]


Many environmental risk factors for common, complex human diseases have been revealed by epidemiologic studies, but how genotypes at specific loci modulate individual responses to environmental risk factors is largely unknown. Gene-environment interactions will be missed in genome-wide association studies and could account for some of the 'missing heritability' for these diseases. In this review, we focus on asthma as a model disease for studying gene-environment interactions because of relatively large numbers of candidate gene-environment interactions with asthma risk in the literature. Identifying these interactions using genome-wide approaches poses formidable methodological problems, and elucidating molecular mechanisms for these interactions has been challenging. We suggest that studying gene-environment interactions in animal models, although more tractable, might not be sufficient to shed light on the genetic architecture of human diseases. Lastly, we propose avenues for future studies to find gene-environment interactions.


At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

File this under 'P' -- Pet peeves of old geneticists.

Doesn't the statement " ... how genotypes at specific loci modulate individual responses to environmental risk factors ... " refer to gene-environment interplay, rather than interaction??

While I have not yet read the full article, IMHO, I've read a number of publications that confuse the common verbiage "genes and environment interact to produce phenotype" with the more genetically-defined "genotype*environment interaction"...

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jason H. Moore said...

As a middle-aged geneticist that actually reads the papers of old geneticists, I actually prefer to think about GxE as norms of reaction. As you probably know, but few other do, there is a very deep literature on plastic reaction norms and phenotypic plasticity. For those of you not familiar with reaction norms, the following book is a good place to start:



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