Fungal Infection Reveals Genetic Vulnerability In Hmong

The fungus, Blastomyces dermatitidis, fungal infection majorly finding naturally in wet soil and in decomposing wood throughout the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi Valley; can cause flu-like illness and in severe cases, death.

Genetic differences are hypothesizing to underlie ethnic disparities in incidence rates of the endemic systemic mycoses, including blastomycosis. But outbreak, the state asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help launching an investigation unusually; 20 patients infecting with the fungus were of Hmong descent.

Fungal infection in Hmong

The study investigators finding that Asian people had a disproportionate risk of developing blastomycosis infections relative to other groups in the U.S. and they ruled out lifestyle explanations; such as gardening practices and recreation.

But an infectious disease physician and professor of pediatrics, internal medicine, and medical microbiology and immunology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). nfortunately, a really typical story with blastomycosis is having a long delay to diagnosis because it’s a (relatively) rare disease and people are not familiar with it.

Isolated groups

That is because every gene study inherit exists in pairs called alleles we get one copy from each parent. Having two alleles that are different creates variation, but as is often the case in genetically isolated groups, the alleles can also be identical, or homozygous.

The study looking for long stretches of homozygosity in the genomes of the Hmong participants. They found them in a region known to be important for immune responses to fungi. The research team found that the cells of Hmong people created less IL-6 than the cells of European donors. The specialized cells that produce IL-17, called Type 17 cytokine T helper cells (TH17).

Which helping lead to the development of another immune responder known as interleukin-17 (IL-17); involving in teaching the body to fight fungal infections. The research team finding that the cells of Hmong people created less IL-6 than the cells of European donors.