The clinical presentation of infections caused by the same micro-organism is highly diverse. This is for example demonstrated for infections with Neisseria meningitidis and respiratory syncytial virus. Some patients infected with N. meningitidis develop meningitis, while others present with sepsis or even septic shock. Moreover, only part of the individuals colonized with N. meningitidis develops clinical disease indicating a different susceptibility between individuals to develop clinical disease. The disease phenotype in respiratory syncytial virus infection varies from a common cold to severe bronchiolitis which requires mechanical ventilation.(1) A similar variation is observed in autoimmune diseases: While some patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have relatively mild disease, in others joint erosion develops rather early after diagnosis. Although part of these variations in susceptibility and severity of infection is explained by, for example, age or crowding, the reasons for this variation are not completely clear. Genetic heterogeneity is thought to play a role.

Abbott, Baxter, Danone Research, De Telefoongids B.V., Department of Immunology Erasmus MC, Dutch Arthritis Association, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé Nutrition, Novartis Pharma B.V., Pfizer B.V., Roche Nederland B.V., Schering-Plough B.V., Vaxinostics, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
P.W.M. Hermans (Peter) , J.D. Laman (Jon) , R. de Groot (Ronald)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Emonts, M. (2008, October 8). Polymorphisms in Immune Response Genes in Infectious Diseases and Autoimmune Diseases. Retrieved from