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Variation in genes encoding costimulatory molecules expressed on lymphocytes has been expected to contribute to the genetic component of inflammatory disease, but only the gene encoding the inhibitory protein, CTLA-4, seems consistently to confer disease susceptibility. Studies in murine models implicate the inhibitory product of the pd1 gene, programmed death-1, in the maintenance of peripheral tolerance to self-antigens. We identify 22 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the equivalent human gene, PDCD1, a number of which show significant associations with the specific immunoglobulin E response to grass allergens in atopic individuals. Stepwise analyses indicate that four of the disease-associated SNPs have independent effects. The two most common haplotypes show positive and negative associations but rarer haplotypes are also likely to be of influence. In a case-control study, multiple regression analysis of genotypic data implies that PDCD1 also confers susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Along with work linking PDCD1 with susceptibility to another autoimmune condition, systemic lupus erythematosus, our data identify PDCD1 as a second immunomodulatory gene with pleiotropic effects in human disease. Genes encoding negative regulators may generally confer a significant fraction of the genetic risk associated with inherited inflammatory disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes immun

Publication Date





430 - 437


Alleles, Antigens, CD, Antigens, Surface, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Case-Control Studies, Female, Gene Frequency, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Inflammation, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Male, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor, Quantitative Trait Loci