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Evidence for Genetic Susceptibility to Developing Early Childhood Diarrhea among Shantytown Children Living in Northeastern Brazil

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  • University of Virginia Center for Global Health, Charlottesville, Virginia; Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas; Institute of Biomedicine and Department of Morphology, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceara, Forteleza, Ceara, Brazil
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To explore the genetic components of susceptibility to early childhood diarrhea (ECD), we used a quantitative genetic approach to estimate the heritability of ECD among children from two Brazilian favelas. Shared environment was used to model common exposure to environmental factors. Genetic relatedness was determined from pedigree information collected by screening household participants (n = 3,267) from two geographically related favelas located in Fortaleza, Brazil. There were 277 children within these pedigrees for whom diarrheal episodes in the first two years of life were recorded. Data on environmental exposure and pedigree relationship were combined to quantitatively partition phenotypic variance in ECD into environmental and genetic components by using a variance components approach as implemented in Sequential Oligogenic Linkage Analysis Routines program. Heritability accounted for 54% of variance in ECD and proximity of residence effect accounted for 21% (P < 0.0001). These findings suggest a substantial genetic component to ECD susceptibility and the potential importance of future genetics studies.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Richard L. Guerrant, University of Virginia Center for Global Health, Charlottesville, VA 22908. E-mail: rlg9a@virginia.edu

Financial support: This study was supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease ICIDR grant U01A1026512, Support was also provided by Global Infectious Disease Research Training grant D43 TW006578.

Authors' addresses: Relana C. Pinkerton, Anita Kohli, and Oluma Bushen, University of Virginia Center for Global Health, Charlottesville, VA. Reinaldo B. Oriá and Claudia Abreu, Institute of Biomedicine and Department of Morphology, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. Jack W. Kent Jr., John Blangero, and Sarah Williams-Blangero, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, TX. Aldo A. M. Lima and Richard L. Guerrant, University of Virginia Center for Global Health, Charlottesville, VA, and Institute of Biomedicine and Department of Morphology, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceara, Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.

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