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1.  Socioeconomic Status and Childhood Asthma in Urban Minority Youths. The GALA II and SAGE II Studies 
Rationale: The burden of asthma is highest among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations; however, its impact is differentially distributed among racial and ethnic groups.
Objectives: To assess the collective effect of maternal educational attainment, annual household income, and insurance type on childhood asthma among minority, urban youth.
Methods: We included Mexican American (n = 485), other Latino (n = 217), and African American (n = 1,141) children (aged 8–21 yr) with and without asthma from the San Francisco Bay Area. An index was derived from maternal educational attainment, annual household income, and insurance type to assess the collective effect of socioeconomic status on predicting asthma. Logistic regression stratified by racial and ethnic group was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI). We further examined whether acculturation explained the socioeconomic-asthma association in our Latino population.
Measurements and Main Results: In the adjusted analyses, African American children had 23% greater odds of asthma with each decrease in the socioeconomic index (aOR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.09–1.38). Conversely, Mexican American children have 17% reduced odds of asthma with each decrease in the socioeconomic index (aOR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72–0.96) and this relationship was not fully explained by acculturation. This association was not observed in the other Latino group.
Conclusions: Socioeconomic status plays an important role in predicting asthma, but has different effects depending on race and ethnicity. Further steps are necessary to better understand the risk factors through which socioeconomic status could operate in these populations to prevent asthma.
PMCID: PMC3863734  PMID: 24050698
asthma; health status disparities; minority health; educational status; poverty
2.  Factors associated with degree of atopy in Latino children in a nationwide pediatric sample: The GALA II Study 
Atopy varies by ethnicity even within Latino groups. This variation may be due to environmental, socio-cultural or genetic factors.
To examine risk factors for atopy within a nationwide study of U.S. Latino children with and without asthma.
Aeroallergen skin test repsonse was analyzed in 1830 US latino subjects. Key determinants of atopy included: country / region of origin, generation in the U.S., acculturation, genetic ancestry and site to which individuals migrated. Serial multivariate zero inflated negative binomial regressions, stratified by asthma status, examined the association of each key determinant variable with the number of positive skin tests. In addition, the independent effect of each key variable was determined by including all key variables in the final models.
In baseline analyses, African ancestry was associated with 3 times as many positive skin tests in participants with asthma (95% CI:1.62–5.57) and 3.26 times as many positive skin tests in control participants (95% CI: 1.02–10.39). Generation and recruitment site were also associated with atopy in crude models. In final models adjusted for key variables, Puerto Rican [exp(β) (95%CI): 1.31(1.02–1.69)] and mixed ethnicity [exp(β) (95%CI):1.27(1.03–1.56)] asthmatics had a greater probability of positive skin tests compared to Mexican asthmatics. Ancestry associations were abrogated by recruitment site, but not region of origin.
Puerto Rican ethnicity and mixed origin were associated with degree of atopy within U.S. Latino children with asthma. African ancestry was not associated with degree of atopy after adjusting for recruitment site. Local environment variation, represented by site, was associated with degree of sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3788073  PMID: 23684070
Latino; atopy; region of origin; genetic ancestry; immigration; skin test; aeroallergen
PMCID: PMC3229749  PMID: 22133319
Airway epithelial cell; plasticity; transdifferentiation
4.  Early-Life Air Pollution and Asthma Risk in Minority Children. The GALA II and SAGE II Studies 
Rationale: Air pollution is a known asthma trigger and has been associated with short-term asthma symptoms, airway inflammation, decreased lung function, and reduced response to asthma rescue medications.
Objectives: To assess a causal relationship between air pollution and childhood asthma using data that address temporality by estimating air pollution exposures before the development of asthma and to establish the generalizability of the association by studying diverse racial/ethnic populations in different geographic regions.
Methods: This study included Latino (n = 3,343) and African American (n = 977) participants with and without asthma from five urban regions in the mainland United States and Puerto Rico. Residential history and data from local ambient air monitoring stations were used to estimate average annual exposure to five air pollutants: ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide, particulate matter not greater than 10 μm in diameter, and particulate matter not greater than 2.5 μm in diameter. Within each region, we performed logistic regression to determine the relationship between early-life exposure to air pollutants and subsequent asthma diagnosis. A random-effects model was used to combine the region-specific effects and generate summary odds ratios for each pollutant.
Measurements and Main Results: After adjustment for confounders, a 5-ppb increase in average NO2 during the first year of life was associated with an odds ratio of 1.17 for physician-diagnosed asthma (95% confidence interval, 1.04–1.31).
Conclusions: Early-life NO2 exposure is associated with childhood asthma in Latinos and African Americans. These results add to a growing body of evidence that traffic-related pollutants may be causally related to childhood asthma.
PMCID: PMC3778732  PMID: 23750510
air pollution; minority; children; asthma
5.  Human rhinovirus infection causes different DNA methylation changes in nasal epithelial cells from healthy and asthmatic subjects 
BMC Medical Genomics  2014;7:37.
Mechanisms underlying the development of virus-induced asthma exacerbations remain unclear. To investigate if epigenetic mechanisms could be involved in virus-induced asthma exacerbations, we undertook DNA methylation profiling in asthmatic and healthy nasal epithelial cells (NECs) during Human Rhinovirus (HRV) infection in vitro.
Global and loci-specific methylation profiles were determined via Alu element and Infinium Human Methylation 450 K microarray, respectively. Principal components analysis identified the genomic loci influenced the most by disease-status and infection. Real-time PCR and pyrosequencing were used to confirm gene expression and DNA methylation, respectively.
HRV infection significantly increased global DNA methylation in cells from asthmatic subjects only (43.6% to 44.1%, p = 0.04). Microarray analysis revealed 389 differentially methylated loci either based on disease status, or caused by virus infection. There were disease-associated DNA methylation patterns that were not affected by HRV infection as well as HRV-induced DNA methylation changes that were unique to each group. A common methylation locus stood out in response to HRV infection in both groups, where the small nucleolar RNA, H/ACA box 12 (SNORA12) is located. Further analysis indicated that a relationship existed between SNORA12 DNA methylation and gene expression in response to HRV infection.
We describe for the first time that Human rhinovirus infection causes DNA methylation changes in airway epithelial cells that differ between asthmatic and healthy subjects. These epigenetic differences may possibly explain the mechanism by which respiratory viruses cause asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC4080608  PMID: 24947756
6.  Viral diversity in asthma 
Asthma exacerbations are precipitated primarily by respiratory virus infection and frequently require immediate medical intervention. Studies of childhood and adult asthma have implicated a wide variety of respiratory viruses in exacerbations. By focusing on both RNA and DNA respiratory viruses and some newly identified viruses, this review illustrates the diversity and highlights some of the uncertainties that exist in our understanding of virus-related asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC2967440  PMID: 21029933
asthma; exacerbation; respiratory; newly identified virus
7.  Analysis of Latino populations from GALA and MEC studies reveals genomic loci with biased local ancestry estimation 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(11):1407-1415.
Motivation: Local ancestry analysis of genotype data from recently admixed populations (e.g. Latinos, African Americans) provides key insights into population history and disease genetics. Although methods for local ancestry inference have been extensively validated in simulations (under many unrealistic assumptions), no empirical study of local ancestry accuracy in Latinos exists to date. Hence, interpreting findings that rely on local ancestry in Latinos is challenging.
Results: Here, we use 489 nuclear families from the mainland USA, Puerto Rico and Mexico in conjunction with 3204 unrelated Latinos from the Multiethnic Cohort study to provide the first empirical characterization of local ancestry inference accuracy in Latinos. Our approach for identifying errors does not rely on simulations but on the observation that local ancestry in families follows Mendelian inheritance. We measure the rate of local ancestry assignments that lead to Mendelian inconsistencies in local ancestry in trios (MILANC), which provides a lower bound on errors in the local ancestry estimates. We show that MILANC rates observed in simulations underestimate the rate observed in real data, and that MILANC varies substantially across the genome. Second, across a wide range of methods, we observe that loci with large deviations in local ancestry also show enrichment in MILANC rates. Therefore, local ancestry estimates at such loci should be interpreted with caution. Finally, we reconstruct ancestral haplotype panels to be used as reference panels in local ancestry inference and show that ancestry inference is significantly improved by incoroprating these reference panels.
Availability and implementation: We provide the reconstructed reference panels together with the maps of MILANC rates as a public resource for researchers analyzing local ancestry in Latinos at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3661056  PMID: 23572411
8.  Incidence and associated pre-morbid diagnoses of patients with chronic rhinosinusitis 
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a prevalent condition with underexplored risk factors.
To determine CRS incidence and evaluate associations with a range of pre-morbid medical conditions for CRS without nasal polyps (CRSsNP) and CRS with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) using real-world clinical practice data.
Electronic health record (EHR) data from 446,480 Geisinger Clinic primary care patients was used for a retrospective longitudinal cohort study for data from 2001–2010. Using logistic regression, newly diagnosed CRS cases between 2007-2009 were compared to frequency-matched controls on pre-morbid factors in the immediate (0-6 months), intermediate (7-24 months) and entire observed timeframes prior to diagnosis.
: The average incidence of CRS was 83 (±13) CRSwNP cases per 100,000 person-years and 1048 (±78) CRSsNP cases per 100,000 person-years. Between 2007-2009, 595 patients with incident CRSwNP and 7523 patients with incident CRSsNP were identified and compared to 8118 controls. Compared to controls and CRSsNP, CRSwNP patients were older and more likely to be male. Prior to diagnosis, CRS patients had a higher prevalence of acute rhinosinusitis, allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinitis, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), adenotonsillitis, sleep apnea, anxiety and headaches (all p < 0.001). CRSsNP had a higher pre-morbid prevalence of infections of the upper and lower airway, skin/soft tissue and urinary tract (all p < 0.001). In the immediate and intermediate timeframes analyzed, patients who developed CRS had more outpatient encounters and antibiotic prescriptions (p < 0.001) but guideline-recommended diagnostic testing was performed in a minority of cases.
Patients who are diagnosed with CRS have a higher pre-morbid prevalence of anxiety, headaches, GERD, sleep apnea and infections of the respiratory system and some non-respiratory sites that results in higher antibiotic, corticosteroid and health care utilization. The use of guideline-recommended diagnostic testing for confirmation of CRS remains poor.
PMCID: PMC3788631  PMID: 23541327
epidemiology; incidence; sinusitis; nasal polyps; risk factors; asthma; rhinitis; nested case-control study; antibiotics; diagnosis
9.  Childhood Obesity and Asthma Control in the GALA II and SAGE II Studies 
Rationale: Obesity is associated with increased asthma morbidity, lower drug responsiveness to inhaled corticosteroids, and worse asthma control. However, most prior investigations on obesity and asthma control have not focused on pediatric populations, considered environmental exposures, or included minority children.
Objectives: To examine the association between body mass index categories and asthma control among boys and girls; and whether these associations are modified by age and race/ethnicity.
Methods: Children and adolescents ages 8–19 years (n = 2,174) with asthma were recruited from the Genes-environments and Admixture in Latino Americans (GALA II) Study and the Study of African Americans, Asthma, Genes, and Environments (SAGE II). Ordinal logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and their confidence intervals (95% CI) for worse asthma control.
Measurements and Main Results: In adjusted analyses, boys who were obese had a 33% greater chance of having worse asthma control than their normal-weight counterparts (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.04–1.71). However, for girls this association varied with race and ethnicity (P interaction = 0.008). When compared with their normal-weight counterparts, obese African American girls (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.41–1.05) were more likely to have better controlled asthma, whereas Mexican American girls had a 1.91 (95% CI, 1.12–3.28) greater odds of worse asthma control.
Conclusions: Worse asthma control is uniformly associated with increased body mass index in boys. Among girls, the direction of this association varied with race/ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC3678111  PMID: 23392439
obesity; asthma control; race and ethnicity; age; sex
10.  Genetics of Chronic Rhinosinusitis: State of the Field and Directions Forward 
The etiology of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) remains unclear. Study of the genetic susceptibility to CRS may be a valuable strategy to understand the pathogenesis of this burdensome disorder. The purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the current literature regarding the genetics of CRS in a comprehensive fashion. The most promising findings from candidate gene studies include the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator gene (CFTR), as well as genes involved in antigen presentation, innate and adaptive immune responses, tissue remodeling, and arachidonic acid metabolism. We also review the few hypothesis-independent genetic studies of CRS (i.e., linkage analysis and pooling-based genome-wide association studies). Interpretation of the current literature is limited by challenges with study design, sparse replication, few functional correlates of associated polymorphisms, and inadequate examination of linkage disequilibrium or expression quantitative trait loci for reported associations. Given the relationship of CRS to other airway disorders with well-characterized genetic components (e.g., asthma), study of the genetics of CRS deserves increased attention and investment, including the organization of large, detailed, and collaborative studies to advance knowledge of the mechanisms that underlie this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3715963  PMID: 23540616
Genetics; genome; variation; chronic rhinosinusitis; nasal polyposis; single nucleotide polymorphism; polymorphism; candidate gene; linkage; genome wide association study; susceptibility; sinusitis
Human rhinoviruses (HRVs) characteristically cause upper respiratory tract infection but they also infect the lower airways causing acute bronchitis and exacerbating asthma.
Our purpose was to study ex-vivo the differences in the response to HRV infection of nasal and bronchial epithelial cultures from the same healthy and asthmatic individuals, using conditions favoring development of fully differentiated pseudostratified mucociliary epithelium.
Cells from the inferior turbinates and bronchial tree of 5 healthy and 6 asthmatic individuals were cultured at an air-liquid interface. Cultures were infected with HRV-16 and after 48hrs the degree of infection was measured.
Baseline median transepithelial resistance (Rte) was lower in human bronchial (HBE) than nasal (HNE) epithelial cell cultures (195Ω.cm2 [95%CI=164–252] vs 366Ω.cm2 [234–408] respectively, p<0.01). Virus replicated more easily in HBEs than HNEs based on virus shedding in apical wash (LogTCID50/0.1ml=2.0 [1.0–2.5] vs. 0.5 [0.5–1.5], p<0.01), and on a 20–30 fold greater viral load and number of infected cells in HBEs than in HNEs. The increases in expression of RANTES and protein kinase PKR were greater in HBE than in HNE cultures, as well as the concentrations of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-1α, RANTES and IP-10 in basolateral medium. However, no significant differences between asthmatic and healthy subjects (including interferon beta1 expression) were found.
Differentiated nasal epithelial cells may have mechanisms of increased resistance to rhinovirus infection compared with bronchial epithelial cells. We could not confirm previous reports of increased susceptibility to HRV infection in epithelial cells from asthmatic subjects.
PMCID: PMC2744461  PMID: 19428098
Human Rhinovirus; nasal and bronchial airway epithelial cells; air-liquid interface
12.  The vitamin E isoforms α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol have opposite associations with spirometric parameters: the CARDIA study 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):31.
Clinical studies of the associations of vitamin E with lung function have reported conflicting results. However, these reports primarily examine the α-tocopherol isoform of vitamin E and have not included the isoform γ-tocopherol which we recently demonstrated in vitro opposes the function of α-tocopherol. We previously demonstrated, in vitro and in animal studies, that the vitamin E isoform α-tocopherol protects, but the isoform γ-tocopherol promotes lung inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness.
To translate these findings to humans, we conducted analysis of 4526 adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) multi-center cohort with available spirometry and tocopherol data in blacks and whites. Spirometry was obtained at years 0, 5, 10, and 20 and serum tocopherol was from years 0, 7 and 15 of CARDIA.
In cross-sectional regression analysis at year 0, higher γ-tocopherol associated with lower FEV1 (p = 0.03 in blacks and p = 0.01 in all participants) and FVC (p = 0.01 in blacks, p = 0.05 in whites, and p = 0.005 in all participants), whereas higher α-tocopherol associated with higher FVC (p = 0.04 in blacks and whites and p = 0.01 in all participants). In the lowest quartile of α-tocopherol, higher γ-tocopherol associated with a lower FEV1 (p = 0.05 in blacks and p = 0.02 in all participants). In contrast, in the lowest quartile of γ-tocopherol, higher α-tocopherol associated with a higher FEV1 (p = 0.03) in blacks. Serum γ-tocopherol >10 μM was associated with a 175–545 ml lower FEV1 and FVC at ages 21–55 years.
Increasing serum concentrations of γ-tocopherol were associated with lower FEV1 or FVC, whereas increasing serum concentrations of α-tocopherol was associated with higher FEV1 or FVC. Based on the prevalence of serum γ-tocopherol >10 μM in adults in CARDIA and the adult U.S. population in the 2011 census, we expect that the lower FEV1 and FVC at these concentrations of serum γ-tocopherol occur in up to 4.5 million adults in the population.
PMCID: PMC4003816  PMID: 24629024
α-tocopherol; γ-tocopherol; FEV1; FVC; Human
13.  Asthmatics with exacerbation during acute respiratory illness exhibit unique transcriptional signatures within the nasal mucosa 
Genome Medicine  2014;6(1):1.
Acute respiratory illness is the leading cause of asthma exacerbations yet the mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. To address the deficiencies in our understanding of the molecular events characterizing acute respiratory illness-induced asthma exacerbations, we undertook a transcriptional profiling study of the nasal mucosa over the course of acute respiratory illness amongst individuals with a history of asthma, allergic rhinitis and no underlying respiratory disease.
Transcriptional profiling experiments were performed using the Agilent Whole Human Genome 4X44K array platform. Time point-based microarray and principal component analyses were conducted to identify and distinguish acute respiratory illness-associated transcriptional profiles over the course of our study. Gene enrichment analysis was conducted to identify biological processes over-represented within each acute respiratory illness-associated profile, and gene expression was subsequently confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
We found that acute respiratory illness is characterized by dynamic, time-specific transcriptional profiles whose magnitudes of expression are influenced by underlying respiratory disease and the mucosal repair signature evoked during acute respiratory illness. Most strikingly, we report that people with asthma who experience acute respiratory illness-induced exacerbations are characterized by a reduced but prolonged inflammatory immune response, inadequate activation of mucosal repair, and the expression of a newly described exacerbation-specific transcriptional signature.
Findings from our study represent a significant contribution towards clarifying the complex molecular interactions that typify acute respiratory illness-induced asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3971347  PMID: 24433494
14.  Further Replication Studies of the EVE Consortium Meta-Analysis Identifies Two Asthma Risk Loci in European Americans 
Genome-wide association studies of asthma have implicated many genetic risk factors, with well-replicated associations at approximately 10 loci that account for only a small proportion of the genetic risk.
We aimed to identify additional asthma risk loci by performing an extensive replication study of the results from the EVE Consortium meta-analysis.
We selected 3186 SNPs for replication based on the p-values from the EVE Consortium meta-analysis. These SNPs were genotyped in ethnically diverse replication samples from nine different studies, totaling to 7202 cases, 6426 controls, and 507 case-parent trios. Association analyses were conducted within each participating study and the resulting test statistics were combined in a meta-analysis.
Two novel associations were replicated in European Americans: rs1061477 in the KLK3 gene on chromosome 19 (combined OR = 1.18; 95% CI 1.10 – 1.25) and rs9570077 (combined OR =1.20 95% CI 1.12–1.29) on chromosome 13q21. We could not replicate any additional associations in the African American or Latino individuals.
This extended replication study identified two additional asthma risk loci in populations of European descent. The absence of additional loci for African Americans and Latino individuals highlights the difficulty in replicating associations in admixed populations.
PMCID: PMC3666859  PMID: 23040885
Asthma; genetic risk factors; meta-analysis; KLK3
15.  Genetic variation in BAFF and asthma exacerbations among African American individuals 
Capsule Summary
A BAFF polymorphism is associated with asthma exacerbations and serum BAFF levels. BAFF expression in vivo increases in natural rhinovirus infection. BAFF may play a role in airway antiviral immunity and impact asthma exacerbation rates.
PMCID: PMC3520130  PMID: 22728080
BAFF; B-cell activating factor; tumor necrosis factor ligand superfamily; asthma; asthma exacerbations; genetics
16.  Genome-wide Ancestry Association Testing Identifies a Common European Variant on 6q14.1 as a Risk Factor for Asthma in African Americans 
Genetic variants that contribute to asthma susceptibility may be present at varying frequencies in different populations, which is an important consideration and advantage for performing genetic association studies in admixed populations.
To identify asthma-associated loci in African Americans.
We compared local African and European ancestry estimated from dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data in African American adults with asthma and non-asthmatic controls. Allelic tests of association were performed within the candidate regions identified, correcting for local European admixture.
We identified a significant ancestry association peak on chromosomes 6q. Allelic tests for association within this region identified a SNP (rs1361549) on 6q14.1 that was associated with asthma exclusively in African Americans with local European admixture (OR=2.2). The risk allele is common in Europe (42% in the HapMap CEU) but absent in West Africa (0% in the HapMap YRI), suggesting the allele is present in African Americans due to recent European admixture. We replicated our findings in Puerto Ricans and similarly found that the signal of association is largely specific to individuals who are heterozygous for African and non-African ancestry at 6q14.1. However, we found no evidence for association in European Americans or in Puerto Ricans in the absence of local African ancestry, suggesting that the association with asthma at rs1361549 is due to an environmental or genetic interaction.
We identified a novel asthma-associated locus that is relevant to admixed populations with African ancestry, and highlight the importance of considering local ancestry in genetic association studies of admixed populations.
PMCID: PMC3503456  PMID: 22607992
asthma; population structure; genome-wide association study; admixture mapping; ancestry association testing; admixed populations; African Americans; Puerto Ricans
17.  Airway epithelial cells activate Th2 cytokine production in mast cells via IL-1 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin 
Airway epithelial cells are important regulators of innate and adaptive immunity. Although mast cells are known to play a central role in manifestations of allergic inflammation and are found in the epithelium in Th2-related diseases, their role is incompletely understood.
The objective of this study was to investigate the role of airway epithelial cells in production of Th2 cytokines in mast cells.
Normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) were stimulated with TNF, IL-4, IFN-γ, IL -17A and dsRNA alone or in combination. Human mast cells were stimulated with epithelial cell-derived supernatants, or co-cultured with NHBE. Th2 cytokine responses were blocked with neutralizing antibodies.
Supernatants from IL-4 and dsRNA stimulated NHBE significantly enhanced Th2 cytokine production from mast cells. The combination of IL-4 and dsRNA itself or supernatants from NHBE stimulated with other cytokines did not activate mast cells, suggesting that mast cell responses were induced by epithelial cell factors that were only induced by IL-4 and dsRNA. Epithelial supernatant-dependent Th2 cytokine production in mast cells was suppressed by anti-IL-1 and anti-TSLP, and was enhanced by anti-IL-1Ra. Similar results were observed in co-culture experiments. Finally, we found dsRNA-dependent production of IL-1, TSLP, and IL-1Ra in NHBE was regulated by Th cytokines, and their ratio in NHBE correlated with Th2 cytokine production in mast cells.
Pathogens producing dsRNA, such as respiratory viral infections, may amplify local Th2 inflammation in asthmatics via the production of TSLP and IL-1 by epithelial cells and subsequent activation of Th2 cytokine production by mast cells in the airways.
PMCID: PMC3387295  PMID: 22633328
Epithelial cells; Mast cells; Virus; Asthma; Th2 cytokine; IL-1; TSLP
18.  Case-control admixture mapping in Latino populations enriches for known asthma-associated genes 
Polymorphisms in more than 100 genes have been associated with asthma susceptibility, yet much of the heritability remains to be explained. Asthma disproportionately affects different racial and ethnic groups in the United States, suggesting that admixture mapping is a useful strategy to identify novel asthma-associated loci.
We sought to identify novel asthma-associated loci in Latino populations using case-control admixture mapping.
We performed genome-wide admixture mapping by comparing levels of local Native American, European, and African ancestry between children with asthma and nonasthmatic control subjects in Puerto Rican and Mexican populations. Within candidate peaks, we performed allelic tests of association, controlling for differences in local ancestry.
Between the 2 populations, we identified a total of 62 admixture mapping peaks at a P value of less than 10−3 that were significantly enriched for previously identified asthma-associated genes (P = .0051). One of the peaks was statistically significant based on 100 permutations in the Mexican sample (6q15); however, it was not significant in Puerto Rican subjects. Another peak was identified at nominal significance in both populations (8q12); however, the association was observed with different ancestries.
Case-control admixture mapping is a promising strategy for identifying novel asthma-associated loci in Latino populations and implicates genetic variation at 6q15 and 8q12 regions with asthma susceptibility. This approach might be useful for identifying regions that contribute to both shared and population-specific differences in asthma susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3593143  PMID: 22502797
Admixture mapping; genome-wide association study; asthma; Latino populations; population-specific risk factors
19.  The impact of secondhand smoke on asthma control among Black and Latino children 
Among people with asthma, the clinical impact and relative contribution of maternal smoking during pregnancy (in utero smoking) and current secondhand smoke exposure on asthma control is poorly documented, and there is a paucity of research involving minority populations.
To examine the association between poor asthma control and in utero smoking and current secondhand smoke exposure among Latino and Black children with asthma.
Case-only analysis of 2 multi-center case-control studies conducted from 2008–2010 using similar protocols. We recruited 2,481 Latinos and Blacks with asthma (ages 8–17) from the mainland United States and Puerto Rico. Ordinal logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of in utero smoking and current secondhand smoke exposures on National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-defined asthma control.
Poor asthma control among children 8–17 years of age was independently associated with in utero smoking (odds ratio; 95% confidence interval = 1.5; 1.1–2.0). In utero smoking via the mother was also associated with secondary asthma outcomes, including early onset asthma (1.7; 1.1–2.4), daytime symptoms (1.6; 1.1–2.1), and asthma-related limitation of activities (1.6; 1.2–2.2).
Maternal smoking while in utero is associated with poor asthma control in Black and Latino subjects assessed at 8–17 years of age.
PMCID: PMC3367092  PMID: 22552109
Secondhand smoke; prenatal exposure delayed effects; asthma; health status disparities
20.  Fast and accurate inference of local ancestry in Latino populations 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(10):1359-1367.
Motivation: It is becoming increasingly evident that the analysis of genotype data from recently admixed populations is providing important insights into medical genetics and population history. Such analyses have been used to identify novel disease loci, to understand recombination rate variation and to detect recent selection events. The utility of such studies crucially depends on accurate and unbiased estimation of the ancestry at every genomic locus in recently admixed populations. Although various methods have been proposed and shown to be extremely accurate in two-way admixtures (e.g. African Americans), only a few approaches have been proposed and thoroughly benchmarked on multi-way admixtures (e.g. Latino populations of the Americas).
Results: To address these challenges we introduce here methods for local ancestry inference which leverage the structure of linkage disequilibrium in the ancestral population (LAMP-LD), and incorporate the constraint of Mendelian segregation when inferring local ancestry in nuclear family trios (LAMP-HAP). Our algorithms uniquely combine hidden Markov models (HMMs) of haplotype diversity within a novel window-based framework to achieve superior accuracy as compared with published methods. Further, unlike previous methods, the structure of our HMM does not depend on the number of reference haplotypes but on a fixed constant, and it is thereby capable of utilizing large datasets while remaining highly efficient and robust to over-fitting. Through simulations and analysis of real data from 489 nuclear trio families from the mainland US, Puerto Rico and Mexico, we demonstrate that our methods achieve superior accuracy compared with published methods for local ancestry inference in Latinos.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3348558  PMID: 22495753
21.  Identification of ATPAF1 as a novel candidate gene for asthma in children 
Asthma is a common disease of children with a complex genetic origin. Understanding the genetic basis of asthma susceptibility will allow disease prediction and risk stratification.
We sought to identify asthma susceptibility genes in children.
A nested case-control genetic association study of children of Caucasian European ancestry from a birth cohort was conducted. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, n=116,024) were genotyped in pools of DNA samples from cohort children with physician-diagnosed asthma (n=112) and normal controls (n=165). A genomic region containing the ATPAF1 gene was significantly associated with asthma. Additional SNPs within this region were genotyped in individual samples from the same children and in eight independent study populations consisting of Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, or other ancestries. SNPs were also genotyped or imputed in two consortia control populations. ATPAF1 expression was measured in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics and controls.
Asthma was associated with a cluster of SNPs and SNP haplotypes containing the ATPAF1 gene with two SNPs achieving significance at a genome-wide level (p=2.26×10−5 to 2.2×10−8). Asthma severity was also associated with SNPs and haplotypes in the primary population. SNP and/or gene-level associations were confirmed in the four non-Hispanic populations. Haplotype associations were confirmed in the non-Hispanic populations (p=0.045 to 0.0009). ATPAF1 total RNA expression was significantly (p<0.01) higher in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics than controls.
Genetic variation in the ATPAF1 gene predisposes children of different ancestry to asthma.
PMCID: PMC3185108  PMID: 21696813
asthma; ATPAF1; children; gene; genetic; genome-wide association; purinergic; respiratory; single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP
22.  Meta-analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies of Asthma In Ethnically Diverse North American Populations 
Torgerson, Dara G. | Ampleford, Elizabeth J. | Chiu, Grace Y. | Gauderman, W. James | Gignoux, Christopher R. | Graves, Penelope E. | Himes, Blanca E. | Levin, Albert M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | Hancock, Dana B. | Baurley, James W. | Eng, Celeste | Stern, Debra A. | Celedón, Juan C. | Rafaels, Nicholas | Capurso, Daniel | Conti, David V. | Roth, Lindsey A. | Soto-Quiros, Manuel | Togias, Alkis | Li, Xingnan | Myers, Rachel A. | Romieu, Isabelle | Van Den Berg, David J. | Hu, Donglei | Hansel, Nadia N. | Hernandez, Ryan D. | Israel, Elliott | Salam, Muhammad T. | Galanter, Joshua | Avila, Pedro C. | Avila, Lydiana | Rodriquez-Santana, Jose R. | Chapela, Rocio | Rodriguez-Cintron, William | Diette, Gregory B. | Adkinson, N. Franklin | Abel, Rebekah A. | Ross, Kevin D. | Shi, Min | Faruque, Mezbah U. | Dunston, Georgia M. | Watson, Harold R. | Mantese, Vito J. | Ezurum, Serpil C. | Liang, Liming | Ruczinski, Ingo | Ford, Jean G. | Huntsman, Scott | Chung, Kian Fan | Vora, Hita | Li, Xia | Calhoun, William J. | Castro, Mario | Sienra-Monge, Juan J. | del Rio-Navarro, Blanca | Deichmann, Klaus A. | Heinzmann, Andrea | Wenzel, Sally E. | Busse, William W. | Gern, James E. | Lemanske, Robert F. | Beaty, Terri H. | Bleecker, Eugene R. | Raby, Benjamin A. | Meyers, Deborah A. | London, Stephanie J. | Gilliland, Frank D. | Burchard, Esteban G. | Martinez, Fernando D. | Weiss, Scott T. | Williams, L. Keoki | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Ober, Carole | Nicolae, Dan L.
Nature genetics  2011;43(9):887-892.
Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma in 5,416 asthma cases representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans, and Latinos, and replicated five regions among the most significant signals in 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, and near the IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33, genes, but we report for the first time that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a novel association with asthma in the PYHIN1, gene that was specific to individuals of African descent (p=3.9×10−9). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3445408  PMID: 21804549
23.  Ethnic Variability in Persistent Asthma After In Utero Tobacco Exposure 
Pediatrics  2011;128(3):e623-e630.
The effects of in utero tobacco smoke exposure on childhood respiratory health have been investigated, and outcomes have been inconsistent.
To determine if in utero tobacco smoke exposure is associated with childhood persistent asthma in Mexican, Puerto Rican, and black children.
There were 295 Mexican, Puerto Rican, and black asthmatic children, aged 8 to 16 years, who underwent spirometry, and clinical data were collected from the parents during a standardized interview. The effect of in utero tobacco smoke exposure on the development of persistent asthma and related clinical outcomes was evaluated by logistic regression.
Children with persistent asthma had a higher odds of exposure to in utero tobacco smoke, but not current tobacco smoke, than did children with intermittent asthma (odds ratio [OR]: 3.57; P = .029). Tobacco smoke exposure from parents in the first 2 years of life did not alter this association. Furthermore, there were higher odds of in utero tobacco smoke exposure in children experiencing nocturnal symptoms (OR: 2.77; P = .048), daily asthma symptoms (OR: 2.73; P = .046), and emergency department visits (OR: 3.85; P = .015) within the year.
Exposure to tobacco smoke in utero was significantly associated with persistent asthma among Mexican, Puerto Rican, and black children compared with those with intermittent asthma. These results suggest that smoking cessation during pregnancy may lead to a decrease in the incidence of persistent asthma in these populations.
PMCID: PMC3164096  PMID: 21859918
asthma; tobacco; Latino; African American; pregnancy
24.  Regulation and Function of the IL-1 Family Cytokine IL-1F9 in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells 
The IL-1 family of cytokines, which now includes 11 members, is well known to participate in inflammation. Although the most recently recognized IL-1 family cytokines (IL-1F5–11) have been shown to be expressed in airway epithelial cells, the regulation of their expression and function in the epithelium has not been extensively studied. We investigated the regulation of IL-1F5–11 in primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Messenger (m)RNAs for IL-1F6 and IL-1F9, but not IL-1F5, IL-1F8 or IL-1F10, were significantly up-regulated by TNF, IL-1β, IL-17 and the Toll-like receptor (TLR)3 ligand double-stranded (ds)RNA. mRNAs for IL-1F7 and IL-1F11 (IL-33) were weakly up-regulated by some of the cytokines tested. Notably, mRNAs for IL-1F6 and IL-1F9 were synergistically enhanced by the combination of TNF/IL-17 or dsRNA/IL-17. IL-1F9 protein was detected in the supernatant following stimulation with dsRNA or a combination of dsRNA and IL-17. IL-1F6 protein was detected in the cell lysate but was not detected in the supernatant. We screened for the receptor for IL-1F9 and found that lung fibroblasts expressed this receptor. We found that IL-1F9 activated mitogen-activated protein kinases and the transcription factor NF-κB in primary normal human lung fibroblasts. IL-1F9 also stimulated the expression of the neutrophil chemokines IL-8 and CXCL3 and the Th17 chemokine CCL20 in lung fibroblasts. These results suggest that epithelial activation by TLR3 (e.g., by respiratory viral infection) and exposure to cytokines from Th17 cells (IL-17) and inflammatory cells (TNF) may amplify neutrophilic inflammation in the airway via induction of IL-1F9 and activation of fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3145067  PMID: 20870894
human bronchial epithelial cells; IL-1F9; human lung fibroblasts; Toll-like receptor; IL-17
25.  Polymorphism in Osteopontin Gene (SPP1) Is Associated with Asthma and Related Phenotypes in a Puerto Rican Population 
Recent studies have shown that osteopontin, a cytokine with suggested immunoregulatory functions, may contribute to pathogenesis of asthma. To determine whether single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SPP1, the gene encoding osteopontin, are associated with risk of asthma, we genotyped 6 known SNPs in SPP1 in the well-characterized Genetics of Asthma in Latino Americans population of 294 Mexican and 365 Puerto Rican parent–child asthma trios. The associations between SNPs and asthma or asthma-related phenotypes were examined by transmission disequilibrium tests as implemented in the family-based association test program. Three polymorphisms, 1 in exon 7 (rs1126616C) and 2 in the 3′-untranslated region (rs1126772A and rs9138A) of SPP1, were associated with diagnosis of asthma, severity of asthma, asthma in subjects with elevated immunoglobulin E (IgE) (IgE >100 IU/mL), and postbronchodilator FEV1 in Puerto Ricans (P values=0.00007–0.04). The CC genotype of rs1126616 conferred an odds ratio of 1.7 (95% CI=[1.3, 2.3], P value adjusted for multiple comparisons=0.001) for asthma compared with the CT and TT genotypes. Furthermore, haplotype analysis identified rs1126616C-rs1126772A-rs9138A to be associated with an increased risk for asthma, severity of asthma, and asthma in subjects with elevated IgE (P=0.03). There was no association between the SPP1 SNPs and asthma outcomes in Mexicans. Our findings suggest that the SPP1 gene is a risk factor for asthma and asthma-related phenotypes in Puerto Ricans, and are consistent with previous animal and human studies on the role of osteopontin in pathogenesis of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3255512  PMID: 22276228

Results 1-25 (43)