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Host genetic factors play a major role in determining differential susceptibility to major infectious diseases of humans, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and invasive pneumococcal disease. Progress in identifying the relevant genetic loci has come from a variety of approaches. Most convincing associations have been identified by case-control studies assessing biologically plausible candidate genes. All six of the genes that have a major effect on infectious disease susceptibility in humans have been identified in this way. However, recently genome-wide linkage analysis of affected sibling pairs has identified susceptibility loci for chronic infections such as leprosy and chronic hepatitis B virus persistence. Other approaches used successfully have included assessment in humans of the homologues of susceptibility genes mapped and identified in murine models. However, the great majority of susceptibility loci remain to be identified and the advent of large-scale genome-wide association scans offers a new approach to defining many of these.

Original publication




Journal article


Annu Rev Genet

Publication Date





469 - 486


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Animals, Communicable Diseases, Genetic Linkage, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome, Human, Hepatitis B, Chronic, Humans, Leprosy, Malaria, Mice, Signal Transduction, Tuberculosis