PURPOSE: Histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) catalyzes one of two major histamine metabolic pathways. Histamine is a mediator of pruritus in atopic dermatitis (AD). The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between HNMT polymorphisms and AD in children.
METHODS: We genotyped 763 Korean children for allelic determinants at four polymorphic sites in the HNMT gene: -465T>C, -413C>T, 314C>T, and 939A>G. Genotyping was performed using a TaqMan fluorogenic 5' nuclease assay. The functional effect of the 939A>G polymorphism was analyzed.
RESULTS: Of the 763 children, 520 had eczema and 542 had atopy. Distributions of the genotype and allele frequencies of the HNMT 314C>T polymorphism were significantly associated with non-atopic eczema (P=0.004), and those of HNMT 939A>G were significantly associated with eczema in the atopy groups (P=0.048). Frequency distributions of HNMT -465T>C and -413C>T were not associated with eczema. Subjects who were AA homozygous or AG heterozygous for 939A>G showed significantly higher immunoglobulin E levels than subjects who were GG homozygous (P=0.009). In U937 cells, the variant genotype reporter construct had significantly higher mRNA stability (P<0.001) and HNMT enzyme activity (P<0.001) than the common genotype.
CONCLUSIONS: Polymorphisms in HNMT appear to confer susceptibility to AD in Korean children.
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