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1.  Serum Polyfluoroalkyl Concentrations, Asthma Outcomes, and Immunological Markers in a Case–Control Study of Taiwanese Children 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;121(4):507-513.
Background: Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous pollutants. Experimental data suggest that they may be associated with adverse health outcomes, including asthma. However, there is little supporting epidemiological evidence.
Methods: A total of 231 asthmatic children and 225 nonasthmatic controls, all from northern Taiwan, were recruited in the Genetic and Biomarkers study for Childhood Asthma. Structure questionnaires were administered by face-to-face interview. Serum concentrations of 11 PFCs and levels of immunological markers were also measured. Associations of PFC quartiles with concentrations of immunological markers and asthma outcomes were estimated using multivariable regression models.
Results: Nine PFCs were detectable in most children (≥ 84.4%), of which perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the most abundant (median serum concentrations of 33.9 ng/mL in asthmatics and 28.9 ng/mL in controls). Adjusted odds ratios for asthma among those with the highest versus lowest quartile of PFC exposure ranged from 1.81 (95% CI: 1.02, 3.23) for the perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA) to 4.05 (95% CI: 2.21, 7.42) for perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). PFOS, PFOA, and subsets of the other PFCs were positively associated with serum IgE concentrations, absolute eosinophil counts (AEC), eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) concentrations, and asthma severity scores among asthmatics.
Conclusions: This study suggests an association between PFC exposure and juvenile asthma. Because of widespread exposure to these chemicals, these findings may be of potential public health concern.
PMCID: PMC3620752  PMID: 23309686
asthma; AEC; ECP; IgE; perfluorinated compounds
2.  Interleukin-13 Genetic Variants, Household Carpet Use and Childhood Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51970.
Interleukin (IL)-13 genetic polymorphisms have shown adverse effects on respiratory health. However, few studies have explored the interactive effects between IL-13 haplotypes and environmental exposures on childhood asthma. The aims of our study are to evaluate the effects of IL-13 genetic variants on asthma phenotypes, and explore the potential interaction between IL-13 and household environmental exposures among Taiwanese children. We investigated 3,577 children in the Taiwan Children Health Study from 14 Taiwanese communities. Data regarding children's exposure and disease status were obtained from parents using a structured questionnaire. Four SNPs were tagged accounting for 100% of the variations in IL-13. Multiple logistic regression models with false-discovery rate (FDR) adjustments were fitted to estimate the effects of IL-13 variants on asthma phenotypes. SNP rs1800925, SNP rs20541 and SNP rs848 were significantly associated with increased risks on childhood wheeze with FDR of 0.03, 0.04 and 0.04, respectively. Children carrying two copies of h1011 haplotype showed increased susceptibility to wheeze. Compared to those without carpet use and h1011 haplotype, children carrying h1011 haplotype and using carpet at home had significantly synergistic risks of wheeze (OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.4–4.4; p for interaction, 0.01) and late-onset asthma (OR, 4.7; 95% CI, 2.0–10.9; p for interaction, 0.02). In conclusions, IL-13 genetic variants showed significant adverse effects on asthma phenotypes among children. The results also suggested that asthma pathogenesis might be mediated by household carpet use.
PMCID: PMC3559736  PMID: 23382814
3.  Fine Particle, Ozone Exposure, and Asthma/Wheezing: Effect Modification by Glutathione S-transferase P1 Polymorphisms 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52715.
There are limited studies on the role of interaction between exposure to ambient air pollution and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) P1 on the risk of asthma/wheezing among children, which provided suggestive, but inconclusive results.
To assess the joint effect of air pollutants and GSTP1 on asthma/wheezing, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional study of 3,825 children in Taiwan Children Health Study. The studied determinants were three GSTP1 Ile105Val (rs 1695) genotypes (Ile-Ile; Ile-Val and Val-Val) and expoure to ambient air pollutants. We used routine air-pollution monitoring data for ozone (O3) and particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5). The effect estimates were presented as odds ratios (ORs) per interquartile changes for PM2.5 and O3.
In a two-stage hierarchical model adjusting for confounding, the risk of asthma was negatively associated with PM2.5 (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.60; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45, 0.82) and O3 (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.60, 0.90) among Ile105 homozygotes, but positively associated with PM2.5 (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.01, 2.27) and O3 (OR 1.19; 95% CI 0.91, 1.57) among those with at least one val105 allele (interaction p value = 0.001 and 0.03, respectively). A similar tendency of effect modification between PM2.5 and O3 and GSTP1 on wheezing was found.
Children who carried Ile105 variant allele and exposed to PM2.5 and O3 may be less likely to occurrence of asthma/wheezing.
PMCID: PMC3554722  PMID: 23357926
4.  Gene-Gene and Gene-Environmental Interactions of Childhood Asthma: A Multifactor Dimension Reduction Approach 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30694.
The importance of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions on asthma is well documented in literature, but a systematic analysis on the interaction between various genetic and environmental factors is still lacking.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We conducted a population-based, case-control study comprised of seventh-grade children from 14 Taiwanese communities. A total of 235 asthmatic cases and 1,310 non-asthmatic controls were selected for DNA collection and genotyping. We examined the gene-gene and gene-environment interactions between 17 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in antioxidative, inflammatory and obesity-related genes, and childhood asthma. Environmental exposures and disease status were obtained from parental questionnaires. The model-free and non-parametrical multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) method was used for the analysis. A three-way gene-gene interaction was elucidated between the gene coding glutathione S-transferase P (GSTP1), the gene coding interleukin-4 receptor alpha chain (IL4Ra) and the gene coding insulin induced gene 2 (INSIG2) on the risk of lifetime asthma. The testing-balanced accuracy on asthma was 57.83% with a cross-validation consistency of 10 out of 10. The interaction of preterm birth and indoor dampness had the highest training-balanced accuracy at 59.09%. Indoor dampness also interacted with many genes, including IL13, beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2), signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6). We also used likelihood ratio tests for interaction and chi-square tests to validate our results and all tests showed statistical significance.
The results of this study suggest that GSTP1, INSIG2 and IL4Ra may influence the lifetime asthma susceptibility through gene-gene interactions in schoolchildren. Home dampness combined with each one of the genes STAT6, IL13 and ADRB2 could raise the asthma risk.
PMCID: PMC3280263  PMID: 22355322
5.  Gestational Medication Use, Birth Conditions, and Early Postnatal Exposures for Childhood Asthma 
Our aim is to explore (1) whether gestational medication use, mode of delivery, and early postnatal exposure correlate with childhood asthma, (2) the dose responsiveness of such exposure, and (3) their links to early- and late-onset asthma. We conducted a matched case-control study based on the Taiwan Children Health Study, which was a nationwide survey that recruited 12-to-14-year-old school children in 14 communities. 579 mothers of the participants were interviewed by telephone. Exclusive breastfeeding protected children from asthma. Notably, childhood asthma was significantly associated with maternal medication use during pregnancy, vacuum use during vaginal delivery, recurrent respiratory tract infections, hospitalization, main caregiver cared for other children, and early daycare attendance. Exposure to these factors led to dose responsiveness in relationships to asthma. Most of the exposures revealed a greater impact on early-onset asthma, except for vacuum use and daycare attendance.
PMCID: PMC3235498  PMID: 22203862
6.  Household environmental tobacco smoke and risks of asthma, wheeze and bronchitic symptoms among children in Taiwan 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):11.
Although studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of respiratory outcomes in childhood, evidence concerning the effects of household environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure remains inconsistent.
We conducted a population-based study comprised of 5,019 seventh and eighth-grade children in 14 Taiwanese communities. Questionnaire responses by parents were used to ascertain children's exposure and disease status. Logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the effects of ETS exposures on the prevalence of asthma, wheeze, and bronchitic symptoms.
The lifetime prevalence of wheeze was 11.6% and physician-diagnosed asthma was 7.5% in our population. After adjustment for potential confounders, in utero exposure showed the strongest effect on all respiratory outcomes. Current household ETS exposure was significantly associated with increased prevalence of active asthma, ever wheeze, wheeze with nighttime awakening, and bronchitis. Maternal smoking was associated with the increased prevalence of a wide range of wheeze subcategories, serious asthma, and chronic cough, but paternal smoking had no significant effects. Although maternal smoking alone and paternal smoking alone were not independently associated with respiratory outcomes, joint exposure appeared to increase the effects. Furthermore, joint exposure to parental smoking showed a significant effect on early-onset asthma (OR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.00-4.02), but did not show a significant effect on late-onset asthma (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.36-3.87).
We concluded that prenatal and household ETS exposure had significant adverse effects on respiratory health in Taiwanese children.
PMCID: PMC2828425  PMID: 20113468

Results 1-6 (6)