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1.  Chronic effects of air pollution on respiratory health in Southern California children: findings from the Southern California Children’s Health Study 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2015;7(1):46-58.
Outdoor air pollution is one of the leading contributors to adverse respiratory health outcomes in urban areas around the world. Children are highly sensitive to the adverse effects of air pollution due to their rapidly growing lungs, incomplete immune and metabolic functions, patterns of ventilation and high levels of outdoor activity. The Children’s Health Study (CHS) is a continuing series of longitudinal studies that first began in 1993 and has focused on demonstrating the chronic impacts of air pollution on respiratory illnesses from early childhood through adolescence. A large body of evidence from the CHS has documented that exposures to both regional ambient air and traffic-related pollutants are associated with increased asthma prevalence, new-onset asthma, risk of bronchitis and wheezing, deficits of lung function growth, and airway inflammation. These associations may be modulated by key genes involved in oxidative-nitrosative stress pathways via gene-environment interactions. Despite successful efforts to reduce pollution over the past 40 years, air pollution at the current levels still brings many challenges to public health. To further ameliorate adverse health effects attributable to air pollution, many more toxic pollutants may require regulation and control of motor vehicle emissions and other combustion sources may need to be strengthened. Individual interventions based on personal susceptibility may be needed to protect children’s health while control measures are being implemented.
PMCID: PMC4311073
Air pollution; traffic pollution; asthma; genetic susceptibility; respiratory disease
2.  Longitudinal Effects of Air Pollution on Exhaled Nitric Oxide: The Children’s Health Study 
To assess the effects of long-term variations in ambient air pollutants on longitudinal changes in exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), a potentially useful biomarker of eosinophilic airway inflammation, based on data from the southern California Children’s Health Study.
Based on a cohort of 1,211 schoolchildren from 8 Southern California communities with FeNO measurements in 2006/07 and 2007/08, regression models adjusted for short-term effects of air pollution were fitted to assess the association between changes in annual long-term exposures and changes in FeNO.
Increases in annual average concentrations of 24-hr average NO2 and PM2.5 (scaled to the interquartile range (IQR) of 1.8 ppb and 2.4 μg/m3, respectively) were associated with a 2.29 ppb (CI=[0.36,4.21]; p =0.02) and a 4.94 ppb (CI=[1.44,8.47]; p = 0.005) increase in FeNO, respectively, after adjustments for short term effects of the respective pollutants. In contrast, changes in annual averages of PM10 and O3 were not significantly associated with changes in FeNO. These findings did not differ significantly by asthma status.
Changes in annual average exposure to current levels of ambient air pollutants are significantly associated with changes in FeNO levels in children, independent of short-term exposures and asthma status. Use of this biomarker in population-based epidemiologic research has great potential for assessing the impact of changing real world mixtures of ambient air pollutants on children’s respiratory health.
PMCID: PMC4310696  PMID: 24696513
Air pollution; chronic exposures; Children’s respiratory health; Environmental epidemiology; Exhaled nitric oxide; Airway inflammation
3.  Ethnic-specific associations of rare and low-frequency DNA sequence variants with asthma 
Nature Communications  2015;6:5965.
Common variants at many loci have been robustly associated with asthma but explain little of the overall genetic risk. Here we investigate the role of rare (<1%) and low-frequency (1–5%) variants using the Illumina HumanExome BeadChip array in 4,794 asthma cases, 4,707 non-asthmatic controls and 590 case–parent trios representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans and Latinos. Our study reveals one low-frequency missense mutation in the GRASP gene that is associated with asthma in the Latino sample (P=4.31 × 10−6; OR=1.25; MAF=1.21%) and two genes harbouring functional variants that are associated with asthma in a gene-based analysis: GSDMB at the 17q12–21 asthma locus in the Latino and combined samples (P=7.81 × 10−8 and 4.09 × 10−8, respectively) and MTHFR in the African ancestry sample (P=1.72 × 10−6). Our results suggest that associations with rare and low-frequency variants are ethnic specific and not likely to explain a significant proportion of the ‘missing heritability’ of asthma.
Common variants account for only a small amount of the heritable risk for developing asthma. Using a meta-analysis approach, Igartua et al. identify one low-frequency missense mutation and two genes with functional variants that are associated with asthma, but only in specific ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC4309441  PMID: 25591454
4.  HDL anti-oxidant function associates with LDL level in young adults 
Atherosclerosis  2013;232(1):165-170.
The primary objective was to evaluate predictors of HDL anti-oxidant function in young adults.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered a protective factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, increased levels are not always associated with decreased cardiovascular risk. A better understanding of the importance of HDL functionality and how it affects CVD risk is needed.
Fifty non-Hispanic white subjects from the Testing Responses on Youth (TROY) study were randomly selected to investigate whether differences in HDL anti-oxidant function are associated with traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including carotid intima media thickness (CIMT), arterial stiffness and other inflammatory/metabolic parameters. HDL anti-oxidant capacity was evaluated by assessing its ability to inhibit low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol oxidation by air using a DCF-based fluorescent assay and expressed as a HDL oxidant index (HOI). The associations between HOI and other variables were assessed using both linear and logistic regression.
Eleven subjects (25%) had an HOI ≥ 1, indicating a pro-oxidant HDL. Age, LDL, high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and paraoxonase activity (PON1), but not HDL, were all associated with HOI level in univariate linear regression models. In multivariate models that mutually adjusted for these variables, LDL remained the strongest predictor of HOI (0.13 increase in HOI per 1 SD increase in LDL, 95% CI 0.04, 0.22).
Atherogenic index of plasma, pulse pressure, homocysteine, glucose, insulin, CIMT and measurements of arterial stiffness were not associated with HOI in this population.
These results suggest LDL, hsCRP and DBP might predict HDL anti-oxidant function at an early age.
PMCID: PMC4039385  PMID: 24401232
high density lipoprotein; antioxidant; paraoxonase; atherosclerosis
5.  Native American Ancestry Affects the Risk for Gene Methylation in the Lungs of Hispanic Smokers from New Mexico 
Rationale: Gene promoter methylation detected in sputum predicts lung cancer risk in smokers. Compared with non-Hispanic whites (NHW), Hispanics have a lower age-standardized incidence for lung cancer.
Objectives: This study compared the methylation prevalence in sputum of NHWs with Hispanics using the Lovelace Smokers cohort (n = 1998) and evaluated the effect of Native American ancestry (NAA) and diet on biomarkers for lung cancer risk.
Methods: Genetic ancestry was estimated using 48 ancestry markers. Diet was assessed by the Harvard University Dietary Assessment questionnaire. Methylation of 12 genes was measured in sputum using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. The association between NAA and risk for methylation was assessed using generalized estimating equations. The ethnic difference in the association between pack-years and risk for lung cancer was assessed in the New Mexico lung cancer study.
Measurements and Main Results: Overall Hispanics had a significantly increased risk for methylation across the 12 genes analyzed (odds ratio, 1.18; P = 0.007). However, the risk was reduced by 32% (P = 0.032) in Hispanics with high versus low NAA. In the New Mexico lung cancer study, Hispanic non–small cell lung cancer cases have significantly lower pack-years than NHW counterparts (P = 0.007). Furthermore, compared with NHW smokers, Hispanic smokers had a more rapidly increasing risk for lung cancer as a function of pack-years (P = 0.058).
Conclusions: NAA may be an important risk modifier for methylation in Hispanic smokers. Smoking intensity may have a greater impact on risk for lung cancer in Hispanics compared with NHWs.
PMCID: PMC3863742  PMID: 24032348
ethnicity; sputum; diet; risk; lung cancer
Pediatric pulmonology  2013;48(9):885-896.
"Extended" (multiple-flow) measurements of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) potentially can distinguish proximal and distal airway inflammation, but have not been evaluated previously in large populations. We performed extended NO testing within a longitudinal study of a school-based population, to relate bronchial flux (J'awNO) and peripheral NO concentration (CalvNO) estimates with respiratory health status determined from questionnaires. We measured FeNO at 30, 50, 100, and 300 ml/sec in 1640 subjects aged 12–15 from 8 communities, then estimated J'awNO and CalvNO from linear and nonlinear regressions of NO output vs. flow. J'awNO, as well as FeNO at all flows, showed influences of asthma, allergy, Asian or African ancestry, age, and height (positive), and of weight (negative), generally corroborating past findings. By contrast, CalvNO results were inconsistent across different extended NO regression models, and appeared more sensitive to small measurement artifacts. Conclusions: Extended NO testing is feasible in field surveys of young populations. In interpreting results, size, age, and ethnicity require attention, as well as instrumental and environmental artifacts. J'awNO and conventional FeNO provide similar information, probably reflecting proximal-airway inflammation. CalvNO may give additional information relevant to peripheral-airway, alveolar, or systemic pathology. However, it needs additional research, including testing of populations with independently verifiable peripheral or systemic pathology, to optimize measurement technique and interpretation.
PMCID: PMC3748140  PMID: 23687084
exhaled nitric oxide; airway inflammation; airways; asthma; allergy; epidemiology; public health; population survey
7.  Microsomal epoxide hydrolase, glutathione S‐transferase P1, traffic and childhood asthma 
Thorax  2007;62(12):1050-1057.
Microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) metabolises xenobiotics including polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Functional variants at this locus have been associated with respiratory diseases. The effects of EPHX1 variants may depend upon exposures from tobacco smoke and traffic emissions that contain PAHs as well as variants in other enzymes in the PAH metabolic pathway such as glutathione S‐transferase (GST) genes. A study was undertaken to investigate associations of variants in EPHX1, GSTM1, GSTP1 and GSTT1 with asthma and the relationships between asthma, EPHX1 metabolic phenotypes and exposure to sources of PAHs.
Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed to estimate the associations of genetic variants and exposures with asthma phenotypes using data from 3124 children from the Children's Health Study.
High EPHX1 activity was associated with an increased risk for lifetime asthma (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.98) which varied by GSTP1 Ile105Val genotype and by residential proximity to major roads (p for interaction = 0.006 and 0.03, respectively). Among children with GSTP1 105Val/Val genotype, those who had high EPHX1 phenotype had a fourfold (95% CI 1.97 to 8.16) increased risk of lifetime asthma than children with low/intermediate EPHX1 phenotype. Among children living within 75 metres of a major road, those with high EPHX1 activity had a 3.2‐fold (95% CI 1.75 to 6.00) higher lifetime asthma risk than those with low/intermediate activity. The results were similar for current, early persistent and late onset asthma. Children with high EPHX1 phenotype, GSTP1 Val/Val genotype who lived <75 metres from a major road were at the highest asthma risk.
EPHX1 and GSTP1 variants contribute to the occurrence of childhood asthma and increase asthma susceptibility to exposures from major roads.
PMCID: PMC2094290  PMID: 17711870
8.  Development of a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework for investigating the impact of climate change on allergic airway disease 
Biogeosciences (Online)  2013;10(3):3977-4023.
Exposure to bioaerosol allergens such as pollen can cause exacerbations of allergenic airway disease (AAD) in sensitive populations, and thus cause serious public health problems. Assessing these health impacts by linking the airborne pollen levels, concentrations of respirable allergenic material, and human allergenic response under current and future climate conditions is a key step toward developing preventive and adaptive actions. To that end, a regional-scale pollen emission and transport modeling framework was developed that treats allergenic pollens as non-reactive tracers within the WRF/CMAQ air-quality modeling system. The Simulator of the Timing and Magnitude of Pollen Season (STaMPS) model was used to generate a daily pollen pool that can then be emitted into the atmosphere by wind. The STaMPS is driven by species-specific meteorological (temperature and/or precipitation) threshold conditions and is designed to be flexible with respect to its representation of vegetation species and plant functional types (PFTs). The hourly pollen emission flux was parameterized by considering the pollen pool, friction velocity, and wind threshold values. The dry deposition velocity of each species of pollen was estimated based on pollen grain size and density. An evaluation of the pollen modeling framework was conducted for southern California for the period from March to June 2010. This period coincided with observations by the University of Southern California's Children's Health Study (CHS), which included O3, PM2.5, and pollen count, as well as measurements of exhaled nitric oxide in study participants. Two nesting domains with horizontal resolutions of 12 km and 4 km were constructed, and six representative allergenic pollen genera were included: birch tree, walnut tree, mulberry tree, olive tree, oak tree, and brome grasses. Under the current parameterization scheme, the modeling framework tends to underestimate walnut and peak oak pollen concentrations, and tends to overestimate grass pollen concentrations. The model shows reasonable agreement with observed birch, olive, and mulberry tree pollen concentrations. Sensitivity studies suggest that the estimation of the pollen pool is a major source of uncertainty for simulated pollen concentrations. Achieving agreement between emission modeling and observed pattern of pollen releases is the key for successful pollen concentration simulations.
PMCID: PMC4021721  PMID: 24839448
9.  Exhaled Nitric Oxide, Susceptibility and New-Onset Asthma in the Children’s Health Study 
The European respiratory journal  2010;37(3):523-531.
A substantial body of evidence suggests an etiologic role of inflammation and oxidative/nitrosative stress in asthma pathogenesis. Fractional concentration of nitric oxide in exhaled air (FeNO) may provide a non-invasive marker of oxidative/nitrosative stress and aspects of airway inflammation. We examined whether children with elevated FeNO are at increased risk for new-onset asthma.
We prospectively followed 2206 asthma-free children (age 7–10 years) who participated in the Children’s Health Study. We measured FeNO and followed these children for three years to ascertain incident asthma cases. Cox proportional hazard models were fitted to examine the association between FeNO and new-onset asthma.
We found that FeNO was associated with increased risk of new-onset asthma. Children with the highest quartile of FeNO had more than a two-fold increased risk of new-onset asthma compared to those with the lowest quartile (hazard ratio: 2.1; 95% confidence interval: 1.3–3.5). This effect did not vary by child’s history of respiratory allergic symptoms. However, the effect of elevated FeNO on new-onset asthma was most apparent among those without a parental history of asthma.
Our results indicate that children with elevated FeNO are at increased risk for new-onset asthma, especially if they have no parental history of asthma.
PMCID: PMC4020940  PMID: 20634264
Incident Asthma; Exhaled Nitric Oxide; Airway Inflammation
10.  Genetic variation in SIRT1 affects susceptibility of lung squamous cell carcinomas in former uranium miners from the Colorado plateau 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(5):1044-1050.
Epidemiological studies of underground miners suggested that occupational exposure to radon causes lung cancer with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) as the predominant histological type. However, the genetic determinants for susceptibility of radon-induced SCC in miners are unclear. Double-strand breaks induced by radioactive radon daughters are repaired primarily by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) that is accompanied by the dynamic changes in surrounding chromatin, including nucleosome repositioning and histone modifications. Thus, a molecular epidemiological study was conducted to assess whether genetic variation in 16 genes involved in NHEJ and related histone modification affected susceptibility for SCC in radon-exposed former miners (267 SCC cases and 383 controls) from the Colorado plateau. A global association between genetic variation in the haplotype block where SIRT1 resides and the risk for SCC in miners (P = 0.003) was identified. Haplotype alleles tagged by the A allele of SIRT1 rs7097008 were associated with increased risk for SCC (odds ratio = 1.69, P = 8.2×10−5) and greater survival in SCC cases (hazard ratio = 0.79, P = 0.03) in miners. Functional validation of rs7097008 demonstrated that the A allele was associated with reduced gene expression in bronchial epithelial cells and compromised DNA repair capacity in peripheral lymphocytes. Together, these findings substantiate genetic variation in SIRT1 as a risk modifier for developing SCC in miners and suggest that SIRT1 may also play a tumor suppressor role in radon-induced cancer in miners.
PMCID: PMC3643420  PMID: 23354305
11.  A Meta-analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies for Serum Total IgE in Diverse Study Populations 
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is both a marker and mediator of allergic inflammation. Despite reported differences in serum total IgE levels by race-ethnicity, African American and Latino individuals have not been well represented in genetic studies of total IgE.
To identify the genetic predictors of serum total IgE levels.
We used genome wide association (GWA) data from 4,292 individuals (2,469 African Americans, 1,564 European Americans, and 259 Latinos) in the EVE Asthma Genetics Consortium. Tests for association were performed within each cohort by race-ethnic group (i.e., African American, Latino, and European American) and asthma status. The resulting p-values were meta-analyzed accounting for sample size and direction of effect. Top single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations from the meta-analysis were reassessed in six additional cohorts comprising 5,767 individuals.
We identified 10 unique regions where the combined association statistic was associated with total serum IgE levels (P-value <5.0×10−6) and the minor allele frequency was ≥5% in two or more population groups. Variant rs9469220, corresponding to HLA-DQB1, was the most significantly associated SNP with serum total IgE levels when assessed in both the replication cohorts and the discovery and replication sets combined (P-value = 0.007 and 2.45×10−7, respectively). In addition, findings from earlier GWA studies were also validated in the current meta-analysis.
This meta-analysis independently identified a variant near HLA-DQB1 as a predictor of total serum IgE in multiple race-ethnic groups. This study also extends and confirms the findings of earlier GWA analyses in African American and Latino individuals.
PMCID: PMC3596497  PMID: 23146381
meta-analysis; genome wide association study; total immunoglobulin E; race-ethnicity; continental population groups
12.  Confounding and Heterogeneity in Genetic Association Studies with Admixed Populations 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(4):351-360.
Association studies among admixed populations pose many challenges including confounding of genetic effects due to population substructure and heterogeneity due to different patterns of linkage disequilibrium (LD). We use simulations to investigate controlling for confounding by indicators of global ancestry and the impact of including a covariate for local ancestry. In addition, we investigate the use of an interaction term between a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and local ancestry to capture heterogeneity in SNP effects. Although adjustment for global ancestry can control for confounding, additional adjustment for local ancestry may increase power when the induced admixture LD is in the opposite direction as the LD in the ancestral population. However, if the induced LD is in the same direction, there is the potential for reduced power because of overadjustment. Furthermore, the inclusion of a SNP by local ancestry interaction term can increase power when there is substantial differential LD between ancestry populations. We examine these approaches in genome-wide data using the University of Southern California's Children's Health Study investigating asthma risk. The analysis highlights rs10519951 (P = 8.5 × 10−7), a SNP lacking any evidence of association from a conventional analysis (P = 0.5).
PMCID: PMC3626055  PMID: 23334005
confounding; genetic association studies; genome-wide association studies; heterogeneity; linkage disequilibrium; population stratification
13.  Estimation of Parameters in the Two-Compartment Model for Exhaled Nitric Oxide 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85471.
The fractional concentration of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation that is being increasingly considered in clinical, occupational, and epidemiological applications ranging from asthma management to the detection of air pollution health effects. FeNO depends strongly on exhalation flow rate. This dependency has allowed for the development of mathematical models whose parameters quantify airway and alveolar compartment contributions to FeNO. Numerous methods have been proposed to estimate these parameters using FeNO measured at multiple flow rates. These methods—which allow for non-invasive assessment of localized airway inflammation—have the potential to provide important insights on inflammatory mechanisms. However, different estimation methods produce different results and a serious barrier to progress in this field is the lack of a single recommended method. With the goal of resolving this methodological problem, we have developed a unifying framework in which to present a comprehensive set of existing and novel statistical methods for estimating parameters in the simple two-compartment model. We compared statistical properties of the estimators in simulation studies and investigated model fit and parameter estimate sensitivity across methods using data from 1507 schoolchildren from the Southern California Children's Health Study, one of the largest multiple flow FeNO studies to date. We recommend a novel nonlinear least squares model with natural log transformation on both sides that produced estimators with good properties, satisfied model assumptions, and fit the Children's Health Study data well.
PMCID: PMC3894971  PMID: 24465571
14.  Genetic Variations in Nitric Oxide Synthase and Arginase Influence Exhaled Nitric Oxide Levels in Children 
Allergy  2010;66(3):412-419.
Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation. In the nitric oxide (NO) synthesis pathway, nitric oxide synthases (encoded by NOS1, NOS2A and NOS3) and arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2) compete for L-arginine. Although FeNO levels are higher in children with asthma/allergy, influence of these conditions on the relationships between variations in these genes and FeNO remains unknown. The aims of the study were to evaluate the role of genetic variations in nitric oxide synthases and arginases on FeNO in children and to assess the influence of asthma and respiratory allergy on these genetic associations.
Among children (6–11 years) who participated in the southern California Children’s Health Study, variations in these five genetic loci were characterized by tagSNPs. FeNO was measured in two consecutive years (N = 2298 and 2515 in Years 1 and 2, respectively). Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to evaluate the associations between these genetic variants and FeNO.
Sequence variations in the NOS2A and ARG2 loci were globally associated with FeNO (P = 0.0002 and 0.01, respectively). The ARG2 association was tagged by intronic variant rs3742879 with stronger association with FeNO in asthmatic children (P-interaction = 0.01). The association of a NOS2A promoter haplotype with FeNO varied significantly by rs3742879 genotypes and by asthma.
Variants in the NO synthesis pathway genes jointly contribute to differences in FeNO concentrations. Some of these genetic influences were stronger in children with asthma. Further studies are required to confirm our findings.
PMCID: PMC3058253  PMID: 21039601
airway inflammation; asthma; biomarker; exhaled nitric oxide; nitrosative stress
15.  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
16.  Physical Activity, Body Mass Index and Mammographic Density in Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Survivors 
To investigate the association between physical activity, body mass index (BMI) and mammographic density in an ethnically-diverse population-based sample of 522 postmenopausal women diagnosed with stage 0–IIIA breast cancer and enrolled in the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Study.
We collected information on BMI and physical activity during a clinic visit two to three years after diagnosis. Weight and height were measured in a standard manner. Using an interview-administered questionnaire, participants recalled the type, duration, and frequency of physical activities in the past year. We estimated dense area and percent density as a continuous measure using a computer-assisted software program from mammograms imaged approximately one to two years after diagnosis. Analysis of covariance methods were used to obtain mean density across World Health Organization BMI categories and physical activity tertiles adjusted for confounders.
We observed a statistically significant decline in percent density (p for trend = .0001), and mammographic dense area (p for trend = 0.0052), with increasing level of BMI adjusted for potential covariates. We observed a statistically significant decline in mammographic dense area (p for trend = .036) with increasing level of sports/recreational physical activity in women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2. Conversely, in women with a BMI < 25 kg/m2, we observed a nonstatistically significant increase in mammographic dense area and percent density with increasing level of sports/recreational physical activity.
Increasing physical activity among obese postmenopausal breast cancer survivors may be a reasonable intervention approach to reduce mammographic density.
PMCID: PMC3839099  PMID: 17261853
breast cancer; body fat; exercise; obesity; weight; breast tissue; breast density
17.  Functional Variants in the Catalase and Myeloperoxidase Genes, Ambient Air Pollution, and Respiratory-related School Absences: An Example of Epistasis in Gene-Environment Interactions 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2009;170(12):1494-1501.
The individual effect of functional single nucleotide polymorphisms within the catalase and myeloperoxidase genes (CAT and MPO) has been studied in relation to asthma; however, their interrelationship with ambient air pollution exposures has yet to be determined. The authors investigated the interrelationships between variants in CAT and MPO, ambient air pollutants, and acute respiratory illness. Health information, air pollution, and incident respiratory-related school absences were ascertained in January–June 1996 for 1,136 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white US elementary schoolchildren as part of the prospective Children's Health Study. Functional and tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms for the CAT and MPO loci were genotyped. The authors found epistasis between functional polymorphisms in the CAT/MPO loci, which differed by levels of oxidant-stress-producing air pollutants. Risk of respiratory-related school absences was elevated for children with the CAT (G/G) and MPO (G/A or A/A) genes (relative risk = 1.35, 95% confidence interval: 1.03, 1.77; P-interaction = 0.005). The epistatic effect of CAT and MPO variants was most evident in communities exhibiting high ambient ozone levels (P-interaction = 0.03). The association of respiratory-illness absences with functional variants in CAT and MPO that differ by air pollution levels illustrates the need to consider genetic epistasis in assessing gene-environment interactions.
PMCID: PMC2800273  PMID: 19897513
air pollution; catalase; epistasis, genetic; peroxidase; respiratory tract infections
18.  Relationship between air pollution, lung function and asthma in adolescents 
Thorax  2007;62(11):957-963.
The interrelationships between air pollution, lung function and the incidence of childhood asthma have yet to be established. A study was undertaken to determine whether lung function is associated with new onset asthma and whether this relationship varies by exposure to ambient air pollutants.
A cohort of children aged 9–10 years without asthma or wheeze at study entry were identified from the Children's Health Study and followed for 8 years. The participants resided in 12 communities with a wide range of ambient air pollutants that were measured continuously. Spirometric testing was performed and a medical diagnosis of asthma was ascertained annually. Proportional hazard regression models were fitted to investigate the relationship between lung function at study entry and the subsequent development of asthma and to determine whether air pollutants modify these associations.
The level of airway flow was associated with new onset asthma. Over the 10th–90th percentile range of forced expiratory flow over the mid‐range of expiration (FEF25–75, 57.1%), the hazard ratio (HR) of new onset asthma was 0.50 (95% CI 0.35 to 0.71). This protective effect of better lung function was reduced in children exposed to higher levels of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5). Over the 10th–90th percentile range of FEF25–75, the HR of new onset asthma was 0.34 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.56) in communities with low PM2.5 (<13.7 μg/m3) and 0.76 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.26) in communities with high PM2.5 (⩾13.7 μg/m3). A similar pattern was observed for forced expiratory volume in 1 s. Little variation in HR was observed for ozone.
Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 attenuates the protective effect of better lung function against new onset asthma.
PMCID: PMC2117135  PMID: 17517830
19.  Roles of Arginase variants, Atopy and Ozone in Childhood Asthma 
Arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2 genes) may play an important role in asthma pathogenesis through effects on nitrosative stress. Arginase expression is upregulated in asthma and varies with T helper type-2 cytokine levels and oxidative stress.
We aimed to examine whether variants in these genes are associated with asthma, and whether atopy, and exposures to smoking and air pollution influence the associations.
Among non-Hispanic and Hispanic white participants of the Children’s Health Study (N=2,946), we characterized variation in each locus (including promoter region) with 6 tagSNPs for ARG1 and 10 for ARG2. Asthma was defined by parental report of physician-diagnosed asthma at study entry.
Both ARG1 and ARG2 genetic loci were significantly associated with asthma (global locus level p-values=0.02 and 0.04, respectively). Compared to the most common haplotype within each locus, one ARG1 haplotype was associated with reduced risk (odds ratio (OR) per haplotype copy=0.55; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.36–0.84) and one ARG2 haplotype was associated with increased risk (OR per haplotype copy=1.35; 95% CI: 1.04–1.76) of asthma. The effect of the ARG1 haplotype that was significantly associated with asthma varied by child’s history of atopy and ambient ozone (Pinteraction=0.04 and 0.02, respectively). Among atopic children living in high ozone communities, those carrying the ARG1 haplotype had reduced asthma risk (OR per haplotype copy=0.12; 95% CI: 0.04–0.43; Pheterogeneity across atopy/ozone categories=0.008).
ARG1 and ARG2 loci are associated with childhood asthma. The association between ARG1 variation and asthma may depend on atopy and ambient ozone.
PMCID: PMC2913574  PMID: 19281908
air pollution; asthma genetics; atopy; gene-environment interaction; nitrosative stress
20.  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
21.  Effects of In Utero and Childhood Tobacco Smoke Exposure and β2-Adrenergic Receptor Genotype on Childhood Asthma and Wheezing 
Pediatrics  2008;122(1):e107-e114.
Associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the β2-adrenergic receptor gene and asthma and wheeze have been inconsistent. Recent studies indicated that tobacco smoke affects β2-adrenergic receptor gene expression and associations of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants with asthma in adults. We aimed to investigate the joint effects of in utero and childhood secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and 2 well-characterized functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Arg16Gly and Glu27Gln) of β2-adrenergic receptor gene on asthma and wheezing in 3128 non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children of the Children's Health Study.
We fitted logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the independent and joint effects of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms and in utero and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure on asthma and wheeze outcomes.
Exposures to in utero maternal smoking and secondhand tobacco smoke were associated with wheezing. Children who were homozygous for the Arg16 allele and were exposed to maternal smoking in utero were at a threefold increased risk for lifetime wheeze compared with children who were unexposed and had at least 1 Gly16 allele. We found similar joint effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and Arg16Gly with wheezing. The risk for lifetime, current, and nocturnal wheeze increased with the number of smokers at home among Arg16 homozygous children. The results were consistent in 2 cohorts of children recruited in 1993 and 1996. Diplotype-based analyses were consistent with the single-nucleotide polymorphism–specific results. No associations were found for Glu27Gln.
Both in utero and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with an increased risk for wheeze in children, and the risks were greater for children with the Arg16Arg genotype or 2 copies of the Arg16–Gln27 diplotype. Exposures to smoking need to be taken into account when evaluating the effects of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants on respiratory health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2748980  PMID: 18558635
β-2 adrenergic receptor; prenatal exposure; secondhand-smoke exposure; asthma; wheeze
22.  Transforming Growth Factor-β1 C-509T Polymorphism, Oxidant Stress, and Early-Onset Childhood Asthma 
Rationale: Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is involved in airway inflammation and remodeling, two key processes in asthma pathogenesis. Tobacco smoke and traffic emissions induce airway inflammation and modulate TGF-β1 gene expression. We hypothesized that the effects of functional TGF-β1 variants on asthma occurrence vary by these exposures.
Objectives: We tested these hypotheses among 3,023 children who participated in the Children's Health Study.
Methods: Tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms rs4803457 C>T and C-509T (a functional promoter polymorphism) accounted for 94% of the haplotype diversity of the upstream region. Exposure to maternal smoking in utero was based on smoking by biological mother during pregnancy. Residential distance from nearest freeway was calculated based on residential address at study entry.
Measurements and Main Results: Children with the −509TT genotype had a 1.8-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–2.95). This association varied marginally significantly by in utero exposure to maternal smoking. Compared with children with the −509CC/CT genotype with no in utero exposure to maternal smoking, those with the −509TT genotype with such exposure had a 3.4-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% CI, 1.46–7.80; interaction, P = 0.11). The association between TGF-β1 C-509T and lifetime asthma varied by residential proximity to freeways (interaction P = 0.02). Children with the −509TT genotype living within 500 m of a freeway had over three-fold increased lifetime asthma risk (95% CI, 1.29–7.44) compared with children with CC/CT genotype living > 1500 m from a freeway.
Conclusions: Children with the TGF-β1 −509TT genotype are at increased risk of asthma when they are exposed to maternal smoking in utero or to traffic-related emissions.
PMCID: PMC2176104  PMID: 17673695
maternal smoking; traffic; asthma; genetics; gene–environment interaction; association study
23.  Integration of Mouse and Human Genome-Wide Association Data Identifies KCNIP4 as an Asthma Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56179.
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The genetics of asthma have been widely studied in mouse and human, and homologous genomic regions have been associated with mouse AHR and human asthma-related phenotypes. Our goal was to identify asthma-related genes by integrating AHR associations in mouse with human genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. We used Efficient Mixed Model Association (EMMA) analysis to conduct a GWAS of baseline AHR measures from males and females of 31 mouse strains. Genes near or containing SNPs with EMMA p-values <0.001 were selected for further study in human GWAS. The results of the previously reported EVE consortium asthma GWAS meta-analysis consisting of 12,958 diverse North American subjects from 9 study centers were used to select a subset of homologous genes with evidence of association with asthma in humans. Following validation attempts in three human asthma GWAS (i.e., Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG) and two human AHR GWAS (i.e., SHARP, DAG), the Kv channel interacting protein 4 (KCNIP4) gene was identified as nominally associated with both asthma and AHR at a gene- and SNP-level. In EVE, the smallest KCNIP4 association was at rs6833065 (P-value 2.9e-04), while the strongest associations for Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG were 1.5e-03, 1.0e-03, 3.1e-03 at rs7664617, rs4697177, rs4696975, respectively. At a SNP level, the strongest association across all asthma GWAS was at rs4697177 (P-value 1.1e-04). The smallest P-values for association with AHR were 2.3e-03 at rs11947661 in SHARP and 2.1e-03 at rs402802 in DAG. Functional studies are required to validate the potential involvement of KCNIP4 in modulating asthma susceptibility and/or AHR. Our results suggest that a useful approach to identify genes associated with human asthma is to leverage mouse AHR association data.
PMCID: PMC3572953  PMID: 23457522
24.  Genetic Determinants for Promoter Hypermethylation in the Lungs of Smokers: A Candidate Gene-Based Study 
Cancer Research  2011;72(3):707-715.
The detection of tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation in sputum-derived exfoliated cells predicts early lung cancer. Here we identified genetic determinants for this epigenetic process and examined their biological effects on gene regulation. A two-stage approach involving discovery and replication was employed to assess the association between promoter hypermethylation of a 12-gene panel and common variation in 40 genes involved in carcinogen metabolism, regulation of methylation, and DNA damage response in members of the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (n=1434). Molecular validation of three identified variants was conducted using primary bronchial epithelial cells. Association of study-wide significance (P<8.2×10−5) was identified for rs1641511, rs3730859, and rs1883264 in TP53, LIG1, and BIK, respectively. These SNPs were significantly associated with altered expression of the corresponding genes in primary bronchial epithelial cells. In addition, rs3730859 in LIG1 was also moderately associated with increased risk for lung cancer among Caucasian smokers. Together, our findings suggest that genetic variation in DNA replication and apoptosis pathways impacts the propensity for gene promoter hypermethylation in the aerodigestive tract of smokers. The incorporation of genetic biomarkers for gene promoter hypermethylation with clinical and somatic markers may improve risk assessment models for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3271143  PMID: 22139380
DNA damage response; promoter hypermethylation; single nucleotide polymorphism; sputum; smoker
25.  Genetic and Epigenetic Variations in Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Promoter, Particulate Pollution and Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Children 
Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS, encoded by NOS2) is the major enzyme for nitric oxide synthesis in airways. As such, measurement of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) provides an in vivo assessment of iNOS activity. Short-term exposure to air pollution, haplotypes and DNA methylation in NOS2 promoter have been associated independently with iNOS expression and/or FeNO.
We aimed to examine the effects of ambient air pollutants, NOS2 promoter haplotypes and NOS2 promoter methylation on FeNO level in children.
We selected 940 participants in the Children’s Health Study who provided buccal samples and had undergone FeNO measurement on the same day. DNA methylation was measured using a bisulfite-polymerase chain reaction Pyrosequencing assay. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms captured the haplotype diversity in the NOS2 promoter. Average particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5μm and ≤10μm (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone and nitrogen dioxide levels 7 days before FeNO measurement were estimated based on air pollution data obtained at central monitoring sites.
We found interrelated effects of PM2.5, NOS2 promoter haplotypes and iNOS methylation on FeNO. Elevated 7-day average PM2.5 exposure was associated with lower iNOS methylation (P=.01). NOS2 promoter haplotypes were globally associated with NOS2 promoter methylation (P=6.2 × 10−8). There was interaction among one common promoter haplotype, iNOS methylation level and PM2.5 exposure on FeNO (Pinteraction=.00007).
Promoter variants in NOS2 and short term PM2.5 exposure affect iNOS methylation. This is one of the first studies showing contributions of genetic and epigenetic variations in air pollution mediated phenotype expression.
PMCID: PMC3487398  PMID: 22055874
air pollution; biomarker; DNA methylation; epigenetics; genetics; gene-environment interaction; nitrosative stress

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