Trends in Population-Based Studies of Human Genetics in Infectious Diseases
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Pathogen genetics is already a mainstay of public health investigation and control efforts; now advances in technology make it possible to investigate the role of human genetic variation in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. To describe trends in this field, we analyzed articles that were published from 2001 through 2010 and indexed by the HuGE Navigator, a curated online database of PubMed abstracts in human genome epidemiology. We extracted the principal findings from all meta-analyses and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with an infectious disease-related outcome. Finally, we compared the representation of diseases in HuGE Navigator with their contributions to morbidity worldwide. We identified 3,730 articles on infectious diseases, including 27 meta-analyses and 23 GWAS. The number published each year increased from 148 in 2001 to 543 in 2010 but remained a small fraction (about 7%) of all studies in human genome epidemiology. Most articles were by authors from developed countries, but the percentage by authors from resource-limited countries increased from 9% to 25% during the period studied. The most commonly studied diseases were HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis B infection, hepatitis C infection, sepsis, and malaria. As genomic research methods become more affordable and accessible, population-based research on infectious diseases will be able to examine the role of variation in human as well as pathogen genomes. This approach offers new opportunities for understanding infectious disease susceptibility, severity, treatment, control, and prevention.
This article is published in PLoS ONE and is free to access online.