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1.  The Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository: A Novel Framework for Childhood Asthma and Allergy Research 
Background
Allergic disorders, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, and food allergy, are a major global health burden. The study and management of allergic disorders is complicated by the considerable heterogeneity in both the presentation and natural history of these disorders. Biorepositories serve as an excellent source of data and biospecimens for delineating subphenotypes of allergic disorders, but such resources are lacking.
Methods
In order to define subphenotypes of allergic disease accurately, we established an infrastructure to link and efficiently utilize clinical and epidemiologic data with biospecimens into a single biorepository called the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository (GCPCR). Children with allergic disorders as well as healthy controls are followed longitudinally at hospital clinic, emergency department, and inpatient visits. Subjects' asthma, allergy, and skin symptoms; past medical, family, social, diet, and environmental histories; physical activity; medication adherence; perceived quality of life; and demographics are ascertained. DNA is collected from all participants, and other biospecimens such as blood, hair, and nasal epithelial cells are collected on a subset.
Results
To date, the GCPCR has 6,317 predominantly Caucasian and African American participants, and 93% have banked DNA. This large sample size supports adequately powered genetic, epidemiologic, environmental, and health disparities studies of childhood allergic diseases.
Conclusions
The GCPCR is a unique biorepository that is continuously evaluated and refined to achieve and maintain rigorous clinical phenotype and biological data. Development of similar disease-specific repositories using common data elements is necessary to enable studies across multiple populations of comprehensively phenotyped patients.
doi:10.1089/ped.2011.0116
PMCID: PMC3377950  PMID: 22768387
2.  Genetic variation in small proline rich protein 2B as a predictor for asthma among children with eczema 
Background
Small proline rich protein 2B (SPRR2B) is a skin and lung epithelial protein associated with allergic inflammation in mice that has not been evaluated in human atopic diseases.
Objective
To determine whether single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SPRR2B are associated with childhood eczema and with the phenotype of childhood eczema combined with asthma.
Methods
Genotyping for SPRR2B and filaggrin (FLG) was performed in 2 independent populations: the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS; N = 762; birth-age, 4 years) and the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinical Repository (GCPCR;N = 1152; ages 5–10 years). Eczema and eczema plus asthma were clinical outcomes based on parental report and clinician’s diagnosis. Genetic analyses were restricted to whites and adjusted for sex in both cohorts and adjusted for environmental covariates in CCAAPS.
Results
Variants in SPRR2B were not significantly associated with eczema in either cohort after Bonferroni adjustment. Children from both cohorts with the CC genotype of the SPRR2B rs6693927 SNP were at 4 times the risk for eczema plus asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 4.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.5– 10.9; P = .005 in CCAAPS; and adjusted odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.8 –9.1; P <.001 in the GCPCR), however. SNPs in SPRR2B were not in strong linkage disequilibrium with the R501X and del2282 FLG mutations, and these findings were independent of FLG.
Conclusions
An SNP in SPRR2B was predictive of asthma among white children with eczema from 2 independent populations. SPRR2B polymorphisms may serve as important predictive markers for the combined eczema plus asthma phenotype.
doi:10.1016/j.anai.2012.01.004
PMCID: PMC3759990  PMID: 22374195
3.  Down-regulation of Glutathione S-transferase Pi in Asthma Contributes to Enhanced Oxidative Stress 
Background
Glutathione S-transferase Pi (GSTPi) is the predominant redox regulator in the lung. While evidence implicates an important role for GSTPi in asthma, the mechanism for this has remained elusive.
Objectives
To determine how GSTPi is regulated in asthma and to elucidate its role in maintaining redox homeostasis.
Methods
We elucidated the regulation of GSTPi in children with asthma and utilized murine models of asthma to determine the role of GSTPi in redox homeostasis.
Measurements and Main Results
Our findings demonstrate that GSTPi transcript levels are markedly down-regulated in allergen and IL-13 treated mouse models of asthma via STAT6 dependent and independent pathways. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) was also down-regulated in these models. The decrease in GSTPi expression was associated with decreased total GST activity in the lungs of mice. Examination of cystine intermediates uncovered a functional role for GSTPi in regulating Cys oxidation, whereby GSTPi-deficient mice exhibited increased oxidative stress (increase in % cystine) compared with wild-type mice following allergen challenge. GSTPi expression was similarly down-regulated in children with asthma.
Conclusions
These data collectively suggest that down-regulation of GSTPi following allergen challenge may contribute to the asthma phenotype due to disruption of redox homeostasis and increased oxidative stress. Furthermore, GSTPi may be an important therapeutic target for asthma, and evaluation of GSTPi expression may prove beneficial in identifying individuals who would benefit from therapy targeting this pathway.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.04.018
PMCID: PMC3164907  PMID: 21570714
GSTPi; asthma; oxidative stress; redox homeostasis; gene
4.  A non-redundant role for mouse Serpinb3a in the induction of mucus production in asthma 
Background
Asthma is a major public health burden worldwide. Studies from our group and others have demonstrated that SERPINB3 and B4 are induced in asthmatics; however their mechanistic role in asthma has yet to be determined.
Objective
To evaluate the role of Serpin3a, the murine homolog of human SERPINB3 and B4, in asthma.
Methods
We studied wild type Balb/c and Serpinb3a null mice in house dust mite or IL-13 induced asthma models and evaluated airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and goblet cell hyperplasia.
Results
Airway hyperresponsiveness and goblet cell hyperplasia were markedly attenuated in the Serpinb3a null mice compared to the wild type mice following allergen challenge, with minimal effects on inflammation. Expression of SPDEF, a transcription factor that mediates goblet cell hyperplasia, was decreased in the absence of Serpinb3a. IL-13 treated Serpinb3a null mice showed attenuated AHR, inflammation, and mucus production.
Conclusions
Excessive mucus production and mucus plugging are key pathologic features of asthma, yet the mechanisms responsible for mucus production are not well understood. Our data reveal a novel non-redundant role for Serpinb3a in mediating mucus production through regulation of SPDEF expression. This pathway may be used to effectively target mucus hypersecretion.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.009
PMCID: PMC3058372  PMID: 21126757
goblet cells; SPDEF; IL-13; hyperplasia
5.  Identification of KIF3A as a Novel Candidate Gene for Childhood Asthma Using RNA Expression and Population Allelic Frequencies Differences 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23714.
Background
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease with a strong genetic predisposition. A major challenge for candidate gene association studies in asthma is the selection of biologically relevant genes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using epithelial RNA expression arrays, HapMap allele frequency variation, and the literature, we identified six possible candidate susceptibility genes for childhood asthma including ADCY2, DNAH5, KIF3A, PDE4B, PLAU, SPRR2B. To evaluate these genes, we compared the genotypes of 194 predominantly tagging SNPs in 790 asthmatic, allergic and non-allergic children. We found that SNPs in all six genes were nominally associated with asthma (p<0.05) in our discovery cohort and in three independent cohorts at either the SNP or gene level (p<0.05). Further, we determined that our selection approach was superior to random selection of genes either differentially expressed in asthmatics compared to controls (p = 0.0049) or selected based on the literature alone (p = 0.0049), substantiating the validity of our gene selection approach. Importantly, we observed that 7 of 9 SNPs in the KIF3A gene more than doubled the odds of asthma (OR = 2.3, p<0.0001) and increased the odds of allergic disease (OR = 1.8, p<0.008). Our data indicate that KIF3A rs7737031 (T-allele) has an asthma population attributable risk of 18.5%. The association between KIF3A rs7737031 and asthma was validated in 3 independent populations, further substantiating the validity of our gene selection approach.
Conclusions/Significance
Our study demonstrates that KIF3A, a member of the kinesin superfamily of microtubule associated motors that are important in the transport of protein complexes within cilia, is a novel candidate gene for childhood asthma. Polymorphisms in KIF3A may in part be responsible for poor mucus and/or allergen clearance from the airways. Furthermore, our study provides a promising framework for the identification and evaluation of novel candidate susceptibility genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023714
PMCID: PMC3166061  PMID: 21912604
6.  Functional Variant in the Autophagy-Related 5 Gene Promotor is Associated with Childhood Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33454.
Rationale and Objective
Autophagy is a cellular process directed at eliminating or recycling cellular proteins. Recently, the autophagy pathway has been implicated in immune dysfunction, the pathogenesis of inflammatory disorders, and response to viral infection. Associations between two genes in the autophagy pathway, ATG5 and ATG7, with childhood asthma were investigated.
Methods
Using genetic and experimental approaches, we examined the association of 13 HapMap-derived tagging SNPs in ATG5 and ATG7 with childhood asthma in 312 asthmatic and 246 non-allergic control children. We confirmed our findings by using independent cohorts and imputation analysis. Finally, we evaluated the functional relevance of a disease associated SNP.
Measurements and Main Results
We demonstrated that ATG5 single nucleotide polymorphisms rs12201458 and rs510432 were associated with asthma (p = 0.00085 and 0.0025, respectively). In three independent cohorts, additional variants in ATG5 in the same LD block were associated with asthma (p<0.05). We found that rs510432 was functionally relevant and conferred significantly increased promotor activity. Furthermore, Atg5 expression was increased in nasal epithelium of acute asthmatics compared to stable asthmatics and non-asthmatic controls.
Conclusion
Genetic variants in ATG5, including a functional promotor variant, are associated with childhood asthma. These results provide novel evidence for a role for ATG5 in childhood asthma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033454
PMCID: PMC3335039  PMID: 22536318
7.  Differences in Candidate Gene Association between European Ancestry and African American Asthmatic Children 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16522.
Background
Candidate gene case-control studies have identified several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with asthma susceptibility. Most of these studies have been restricted to evaluations of specific SNPs within a single gene and within populations from European ancestry. Recently, there is increasing interest in understanding racial differences in genetic risk associated with childhood asthma. Our aim was to compare association patterns of asthma candidate genes between children of European and African ancestry.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using a custom-designed Illumina SNP array, we genotyped 1,485 children within the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository and Cincinnati Genomic Control Cohort for 259 SNPs in 28 genes and evaluated their associations with asthma. We identified 14 SNPs located in 6 genes that were significantly associated (p-values <0.05) with childhood asthma in African Americans. Among Caucasians, 13 SNPs in 5 genes were associated with childhood asthma. Two SNPs in IL4 were associated with asthma in both races (p-values <0.05). Gene-gene interaction studies identified race specific sets of genes that best discriminate between asthmatic children and non-allergic controls.
Conclusions/Significance
We identified IL4 as having a role in asthma susceptibility in both African American and Caucasian children. However, while IL4 SNPs were associated with asthma in asthmatic children with European and African ancestry, the relative contributions of the most replicated asthma-associated SNPs varied by ancestry. These data provides valuable insights into the pathways that may predispose to asthma in individuals with European vs. African ancestry.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016522
PMCID: PMC3046166  PMID: 21387019

Results 1-7 (7)