Genetic effects on sepsis and pneumonia

Richard G. Wunderink*, Grant W. Waterer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The genetic risk for pneumonia, sepsis, and other serious infections is generally unrecognized or underestimated. Careful questioning of patients can detect a familial pattern of severe infection. Despite the strong evidence for a heritable risk of severe infection, the actual genetic factor(s) is not clear. The most likely genetic candidates are polymorphisms in components of the innate immune response. The best evidence to date is for polymorphisms in the tumor necrosis factor α, lymphotoxin α, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist genes. Evidence for polymorphisms in other genes is reviewed. Presently, the clinical implication of this research is that patients with a strong family history of death from infection are candidates for immunization, even if they do not have other risk factors. However, these studies of genetic risk of infection have great promise for the future in understanding the pathogenesis of severe infections and in individualizing treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2004


  • Genetics
  • Pneumonia
  • Polymorphisms
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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