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1.  Maternal Obesity in Pregnancy, Gestational Weight Gain, and Risk of Childhood Asthma 
Pediatrics  2014;134(2):e535-e546.
Environmental or lifestyle exposures in utero may influence the development of childhood asthma. In this meta-analysis, we aimed to assess whether maternal obesity in pregnancy (MOP) or increased maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) increased the risk of asthma in offspring.
We included all observational studies published until October 2013 in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, The Cochrane Database, and Ovid. Random effects models with inverse variance weights were used to calculate pooled risk estimates.
Fourteen studies were included (N = 108 321 mother–child pairs). Twelve studies reported maternal obesity, and 5 reported GWG. Age of children was 14 months to 16 years. MOP was associated with higher odds of asthma or wheeze ever (OR = 1.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16–1.49) or current (OR = 1.21; 95% CI, 1.07–1.37); each 1-kg/m2 increase in maternal BMI was associated with a 2% to 3% increase in the odds of childhood asthma. High GWG was associated with higher odds of asthma or wheeze ever (OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.001–1.34). Maternal underweight and low GWG were not associated with childhood asthma or wheeze. Meta-regression showed a negative association of borderline significance for maternal asthma history (P = .07). The significant heterogeneity among existing studies indicates a need for standardized approaches to future studies on the topic.
MOP and high GWG are associated with an elevated risk of childhood asthma; this finding may be particularly significant for mothers without asthma history. Prospective randomized trials of maternal weight management are needed.
PMCID: PMC4187236  PMID: 25049351
childhood asthma; asthma risk factors; maternal obesity; gestational weight gain; meta-analysis
2.  Fungal Exposure, Atopy, and Asthma Exacerbations in Puerto Rican Children 
Background: Glucan is a component of the fungal cell wall that is used as a marker of fungal exposure. Little is known about indoor glucan, atopy, and asthma exacerbations among children living in tropical environments such as Puerto Rico. Our objective was to examine whether glucan exposure is associated with degree of atopy or visits to the emergency department (ED)/urgent care for asthma in Puerto Rican children.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 317 children aged 6 to 14 years with (cases, n = 160) and without (control subjects, n = 157) asthma in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our primary outcomes were the number of positive skin tests to allergens (range, 0–15) and (in cases only) having had at least one visit to the ED/urgent care for asthma in the prior year. Levels of glucan, endotoxin, peptidoglycan, and five allergens (Der p 1, Bla g 2, Fel d 1, Can f 1, and Mus m 1) were measured in samples of house dust. Linear or logistic regression was used for the multivariate analysis.
Measurements and Main Results: In a multivariate analysis adjusting for case-control status, mouse allergen, and other covariates, children exposed to glucan levels in the second and third quartiles had approximately two more positive skin tests than those in the lowest quartile (P < 0.01 in both instances). Among children with asthma, exposure to the highest quartile of glucan was associated with nearly ninefold greater odds of one or more visits to the ED/urgent care for asthma (95% confidence interval for adjusted odds ratio, 2.7–28.4; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that indoor fungal exposure leads to an increased degree of atopy and visits to the ED/urgent care for asthma in Puerto Rican children.
PMCID: PMC4213992  PMID: 24915164
fungi; asthma attacks; Puerto Ricans; children
3.  Adiposity, Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide, and Asthma in U.S. Children 
Rationale: Whether allergic airway inflammation mediates the association between overweight or obesity and childhood asthma is unknown.
Objectives: To examine adiposity, asthma, and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) in U.S. children.
Methods: Cross-sectional study of indicators of adiposity or obesity, FeNO (a biomarker of eosinophilic airway inflammation), and asthma in 2,681 children aged 6–17 years in the 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Adiposity measures included body mass index (BMI), percent body fat (PBF), and waist circumference (WC).
Measurements and Main Results: BMI, PBF, and WC were associated with asthma among children with low FeNO (odds ratio, 1.54–1.68; P < 0.01), but not among children with increased FeNO. Among children without asthma, BMI, PBF, and WC were associated with higher FEV1 and FVC, and lower FEV1/FVC. Among children with asthma and a high FeNO, all adiposity indicators were associated with decreased FEV1/FVC (β = −1.5% to −1.7% per z score) but not with FEV1 or FVC. Higher BMI or PBF was associated with worse asthma severity or control in children with asthma and increased FeNO, but not in children with asthma and low FeNO. Similar results were obtained in a secondary multivariate analysis of overweight or obesity (defined as BMI ≥85th percentile) and asthma or indicators of asthma severity or control, stratified by FeNO level.
Conclusions: Adiposity indicators are associated with asthma in children with low FeNO. Among children with asthma, adiposity indicators are associated with worse asthma severity or control in those with high FeNO.
PMCID: PMC4226031  PMID: 24922361
asthma; airway inflammation; adiposity; obesity; NHANES
4.  Obesity and adiposity indicators, asthma, and atopy in Puerto Rican children 
Whether adiposity indicators other than body mass index should be used in studies of childhood asthma is largely unknown. The role of atopy in “obese asthma” is also unclear.
To examine the relation among adiposity indicators, asthma, and atopy in Puerto Rican children, and to assess whether atopy mediates the obesity-asthma association.
In a study of Puerto Rican children with (n=351) and without (n=327) asthma, we measured body mass index (BMI), percent body fat (PBF), waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). The outcomes studied included asthma, lung function, measures of atopy, and, among cases, indicators of asthma severity or control. We performed mediation analysis to assess the contribution of atopy to the relationship between adiposity and asthma.
BMI, PBF, and WC were associated with increased odds of asthma. Among cases, all three measures were generally associated with lung function, asthma severity/control, and atopy; however, there were differences depending on the adiposity indicator analyzed. Atopy considerably mediated the adiposity-asthma association in this population: allergic rhinitis accounted for 22-53% of the association with asthma, and sensitization to cockroach mediated 13-20% of the association with FVC and 29-42% of the association with emergency room visits for asthma.
Adiposity indicators are associated with asthma, asthma severity/control, and atopy in Puerto Rican children. Atopy significantly mediates the effect of adiposity on asthma outcomes. Longitudinal studies are needed to further investigate the causal role, if any, of adiposity distribution and atopy on “obese asthma” in childhood.
Clinical Implications:
Assessment of adiposity rather than sole reliance on BMI may be important in studies of childhood asthma. Atopy is an important mediator of the relation between obesity and asthma in Puerto Rican children.
Capsule Summary:
In a cohort of Puerto Rican children, measures of adiposity were associated with asthma, asthma severity/control, and atopy; however, some differences existed depending on the adiposity indicator utilized. Atopy significantly mediated the association between adiposity indicators and asthma.
PMCID: PMC4013276  PMID: 24290290
Childhood asthma; obesity; adiposity; body mass index; percent body fat; obesity and asthma; obesity and atopy
5.  Expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTL) Mapping in Puerto Rican Children 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0122464.
Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) have been identified using tissue or cell samples from diverse human populations, thus enhancing our understanding of regulation of gene expression. However, few studies have attempted to identify eQTL in racially admixed populations such as Hispanics.
We performed a systematic eQTL study to identify regulatory variants of gene expression in whole blood from 121 Puerto Rican children with (n = 63) and without (n = 58) asthma. Genome-wide genotyping was conducted using the Illumina Omni2.5M Bead Chip, and gene expression was assessed using the Illumina HT-12 microarray. After completing quality control, we performed a pair-wise genome analysis of ~15 K transcripts and ~1.3 M SNPs for both local and distal effects. This analysis was conducted under a regression framework adjusting for age, gender and principal components derived from both genotypic and mRNA data. We used a false discovery rate (FDR) approach to identify significant eQTL signals, which were next compared to top eQTL signals from existing eQTL databases. We then performed a pathway analysis for our top genes.
We identified 36,720 local pairs in 3,391 unique genes and 1,851 distal pairs in 446 unique genes at FDR <0.05, corresponding to unadjusted P values lower than 1.5x10-4 and 4.5x10-9, respectively. A significant proportion of genes identified in our study overlapped with those identified in previous studies. We also found an enrichment of disease-related genes in our eQTL list.
We present results from the first eQTL study in Puerto Rican children, who are members of a unique Hispanic cohort disproportionately affected with asthma, prematurity, obesity and other common diseases. Our study confirmed eQTL signals identified in other ethnic groups, while also detecting additional eQTLs unique to our study population. The identified eQTLs will help prioritize findings from future genome-wide association studies in Puerto Ricans.
PMCID: PMC4376710  PMID: 25816334
6.  Diet and Asthma: Vitamins and Methyl Donors 
The lancet. Respiratory medicine  2013;1(10):813-822.
Dietary changes may partly explain the high burden of asthma in industrialized nations. Experimental studies have motivated a significant number of observational studies of the relation between vitamins (A, C, D, and E) or nutrients acting as methyl donors (folate, vitamin B12, and choline) and asthma. Because observational studies are susceptible to several sources of bias, well-conducted randomized controlled trials (RCTs) remain the “gold standard” to determine whether a vitamin or nutrient has an effect on asthma. Evidence from observational studies and/or relatively few RCTs most strongly justify ongoing and future RCTs of: 1) vitamin D to prevent or treat asthma, 2) choline supplementation as adjuvant treatment for asthma, and 3) vitamin E to prevent the detrimental effects of air pollution in subjects with asthma. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to recommend supplementation with any vitamin or nutrient acting as a methyl donor to prevent or treat asthma.
PMCID: PMC3904132  PMID: 24461761
7.  Asthma in Hispanics. An 8-Year Update 
This review provides an update on asthma in Hispanics, a diverse group tracing their ancestry to countries previously under Spanish rule. A marked variability in the prevalence and morbidity from asthma remains among Hispanic subgroups in the United States and Hispanic America. In the United States, Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans have high and low burdens of asthma, respectively (the “Hispanic Paradox”). This wide divergence in asthma morbidity among Hispanic subgroups is multifactorial, likely reflecting the effects of known (secondhand tobacco smoke, air pollution, psychosocial stress, obesity, inadequate treatment) and potential (genetic variants, urbanization, vitamin D insufficiency, and eradication of parasitic infections) risk factors. Barriers to adequate asthma management in Hispanics include economic and educational disadvantages, lack of health insurance, and no access to or poor adherence with controller medications such as inhaled corticosteroids. Although considerable progress has been made in our understanding of asthma in Hispanic subgroups, many questions remain. Studies of asthma in Hispanic America should focus on environmental or lifestyle factors that are more relevant to asthma in this region (e.g., urbanization, air pollution, parasitism, and stress). In the United States, research studies should focus on risk factors that are known to or may diverge among Hispanic subgroups, including but not limited to epigenetic variation, prematurity, vitamin D level, diet, and stress. Clinical trials of culturally appropriate interventions that address multiple aspects of asthma management in Hispanic subgroups should be prioritized for funding. Ensuring high-quality healthcare for all remains a pillar of eliminating asthma disparities.
PMCID: PMC4098086  PMID: 24881937
asthma; Hispanics; genetics; risk factors
8.  Folate and Asthma 
Findings from experimental studies and animal models led to the hypothesis that folic acid supplementation during pregnancy confers an increased risk of asthma. This review provides a critical examination of current experimental and epidemiologic evidence of a causal association between folate status and asthma. In industrialized nations, the prevalence of asthma was rising before widespread fortification of foodstuffs with folic acid or folate supplementation before or during pregnancy, thus suggesting that changes in folate status are an unlikely explanation for “the asthma epidemic.” Consistent with this ecologic observation, evidence from human studies does not support moderate or strong effects of folate status on asthma. Given known protective effects against neural tube and cardiac defects, there is no reason to alter current recommendations for folic acid supplementation during conception or pregnancy based on findings for folate and asthma. Although we believe that there are inadequate data to exclude a weak effect of maternal folate status on asthma or asthma symptoms, such effects could be examined within the context of very large (and ongoing) birth cohort studies. At this time, there is no justification for funding new studies of folate and asthma.
PMCID: PMC3735241  PMID: 23650899
folate; asthma; asthma morbidity
9.  Asthma and Ethnic Minorities: Socioeconomic Status and Beyond 
Purpose of review
We aim to discuss current insights into our understanding of the mechanisms by which socioeconomic status (SES) influences the prevalence and severity of asthma in ethnic minorities. In addition, we review potential risk factors for ethnic disparities in asthma that are not mediated by SES.
Recent findings
Exposures and factors correlated with ethnicity through SES (e.g. indoor and outdoor air quality, smoke exposure, and access to healthcare) are likely to explain a significant proportion of the observed ethnic differences in asthma morbidity. However, other factors correlated with ethnicity (e.g., genetic variation) can impact ethnic disparities in asthma independently of and/or interacting with SES-related factors.
SES is a rough marker of a variety of environmental/behavioral exposures and a very important determinant of differences in asthma prevalence and severity among ethnic minorities in the U.S. However, SES is unlikely to be the sole explanation for ethnic disparities in asthma, which may also be due to differences in genetic variation and gene-by-environment interactions among ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3920741  PMID: 19326508
Childhood asthma; asthma epidemiology; socioeconomic status; ethnicity; race; minorities
10.  Vitamin D Insufficiency and Severe Asthma Exacerbations in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Vitamin D insufficiency (a serum 25(OH)D <30 ng/ml) has been associated with severe asthma exacerbations, but this could be explained by underlying racial ancestry or disease severity. Little is known about vitamin D and asthma in Puerto Ricans.
Objectives: To examine whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, and time outdoors.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 560 children ages 6–14 years with (n = 287) and without (n = 273) asthma in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We measured plasma vitamin D and estimated the percentage of African racial ancestry among participants using genome-wide genotypic data. We tested whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations, lung function, or atopy (greater than or equal to one positive IgE to allergens) using logistic or linear regression. Multivariate models were adjusted for African ancestry, time outdoors, atopy, and other covariates.
Measurements and Main Results: Vitamin D insufficiency was common in children with (44%) and without (47%) asthma. In multivariate analyses, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with higher odds of greater than or equal to one severe asthma exacerbation in the prior year (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5–4.9; P = 0.001) and atopy, and a lower FEV1/FVC in cases. After stratification by atopy, the magnitude of the association between vitamin D insufficiency and severe exacerbations was greater in nonatopic (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 2–21.6; P = 0.002) than in atopic (OR, 2; 95% CI, 1–4.1; P = 0.04) cases.
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, or markers of disease severity or control.
PMCID: PMC3406083  PMID: 22652028
vitamin D; asthma exacerbations; Puerto Ricans; childhood
11.  Genomewide association study of the age of onset of childhood asthma 
Childhood asthma is a complex disease with known heritability and phenotypic diversity. Although an earlier onset has been associated with more severe disease, there has been no genome-wide association study of the age of onset of asthma in children.
To identify genetic variants associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma.
We conducted the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the age of onset of childhood asthma among participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), and used three independent cohorts from North America, Costa Rica, and Sweden for replication.
Two SNPs were associated with earlier onset of asthma in the combined analysis of CAMP and the replication cohorts: : rs9815663 (Fisher’s P value=2.31 × 10−8) and rs7927044 (P=6.54 × 10−9). Of these two SNPs, rs9815663 was also significantly associated with earlier asthma onset in an analysis including only the replication cohorts. Ten SNPs in linkage disequilibrium with rs9815663 were also associated with earlier asthma onset (2.24 × 10−7 < P < 8.22 ×10−6). Having ≥1 risk allele of the two SNPs of interest (rs9815663 and rs7927044) was associated with lower lung function and higher asthma medication use during 4 years of follow-up in CAMP.
We have identified two SNPs associated with earlier onset of childhood asthma in four independent cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3387331  PMID: 22560479
Asthma; pediatrics; age of onset; asthma genetics; C1orf100; genome-wide association study; pediatric asthma
12.  African Ancestry and Lung Function in Puerto Rican Children 
Puerto Ricans and African Americans share a significant proportion of African ancestry. Recent findings suggest that African ancestry influences lung function in African American adults.
To examine whether a greater proportion of African ancestry is associated with lower FEV1 and FVC in Puerto Rican children, independently of socioeconomic status (SES), healthcare access or key environmental/lifestyle (EL) factors.
Cross-sectional case-control study of 943 Puerto Rican children ages 6 to 14 years with (n=520) and without (n=423) asthma (defined as physician-diagnosed asthma and wheeze in the prior year) living in Hartford (CT, n=383) and San Juan (PR, n=560). We estimated the percentage of African racial ancestry in study participants using genome-wide genotypic data. We tested whether African ancestry is associated with FEV1 and FVC using linear regression. Multivariate models were adjusted for indicators of SES and healthcare, and selected EL exposures.
After adjustment for household income and other covariates, each 20% increment in African ancestry was significantly associated with lower pre-bronchodilator(BD) FEV1 (−105 ml, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −159 ml to −51 ml, P <0.001) and FVC (−133 ml, 95% CI −197 ml to −69 ml, P <0.001), and post-BD FEV1 (−152 ml, 95% CI=−210 ml to −94 ml, P <0.001) and FVC (−145 ml, 95% CI= −211 to −79 ml, P <0.001) in children with asthma. Similar but weaker associations were found for pre- and post-BD FEV1 (change for each 20% increment in African ancestry= −78 ml, 95% CI= −131 to −25 ml, P=0.004), and for post-BD FVC among children without asthma.
Genetic and/or EL factors correlated with African ancestry may influence childhood lung function in Puerto Ricans.
PMCID: PMC3367038  PMID: 22560959
ancestry; FEV1; FVC; Puerto Ricans; childhood
13.  Maternal intestinal flora and wheeze in early childhood 
Increasing evidence links altered intestinal flora in infancy to eczema and asthma. No studies have investigated the influence of maternal intestinal flora on wheezing and eczema in early childhood.
To investigate the link between maternal intestinal flora during pregnancy and development of wheeze and eczema in infancy.
Sixty pregnant women from the Boston area gave stool samples during the third trimester of their pregnancy and answered questions during pregnancy about their own health, and about their children’s health when the child was 2 and 6 months of age. Quantitative culture was performed on stool samples and measured in log10colony-forming units(CFU)/gram stool. Primary outcomes included infant wheeze and eczema in the first 6 months of life. Atopic wheeze, defined as wheeze and eczema, was analyzed as a secondary outcome.
In multivariate models adjusted for breastfeeding, daycare attendance and maternal atopy, higher counts of maternal total aerobes (TA) and enterococci (E) were associated with increased risk of infant wheeze (TA: OR 2.32 for 1 log increase in CFU/g stool [95% CI 1.22, 4.42]; E: OR 1.57 [95% CI 1.06, 2.31]). No organisms were associated with either eczema or atopic wheeze.
Conclusions & Clinical Relevance
In our cohort, higher maternal total aerobes and enterococci were related to increased risk of infant wheeze. Maternal intestinal flora may be an important environmental exposure in early immune system development.
PMCID: PMC3428746  PMID: 22909161
infant wheeze; eczema; asthma; microbiota; intestinal flora; maternal flora
14.  Health Disparities in Asthma 
PMCID: PMC3359893  PMID: 22589306
15.  Work-related respiratory symptoms and lung function among solderers in the electronics industry: a meta-analysis 
Research on the respiratory effect of exposure to solder fumes in electronics workers has been conducted since the 1970s, but has yielded inconsistent results. The aim of this meta-analysis was to clarify the potential association.
Effect sizes with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for odds of respiratory symptoms related to soldering and spirometric parameters of solderers were extracted from seven studies and pooled to generate summary estimates and standardized mean differences in lung function measures between exposed persons and controls.
Soldering was positively associated with wheeze after controlling for smoking (meta-odds ratio: 2.60, 95% CI: 1.46, 4.63) and with statistically significant reductions in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) (−0.88%, 95% CI: −1.51, −0.26), forced vital capacity (FVC) (−0.64%, 95% CI: −1.18, −0.10), and FEV1/FVC (−0.35%, 95% CI: −0.65, −0.05). However, lung function parameters of solderers were within normal ranges [pooled mean FEV1: 97.85 (as percent of predicted), 95% CI: 94.70, 100.95, pooled mean FVC: 94.92 (as percent of predicted), 95% CI: 81.21, 108.64, and pooled mean FEV1/FVC: 86.5 (as percent), 95% CI: 78.01, 94.98].
Soldering may be a risk factor for wheeze, but may not be associated with a clinically significant impairment of lung function among electronics workers.
PMCID: PMC3348243  PMID: 21879344
Electronics workers; Soldering; Rosin; Asthma; Lung function
16.  A Genome-Wide Association Study on African-Ancestry Populations For Asthma 
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by striking ethnic disparities not explained entirely by environmental, social, cultural, or economic factors. Of the limited genetic studies performed on populations of African descent, notable differences in susceptibility allele frequencies have been observed.
To test the hypothesis that some genes may contribute to the profound disparities in asthma.
We performed a genome-wide association study in two independent populations of African ancestry (935 African American asthma cases and controls from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, and 929 African Caribbean asthmatics and their family members from Barbados) to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with asthma.
Meta-analysis combining these two African-ancestry populations yielded three SNPs with a combined P-value <10-5 in genes of potential biological relevance to asthma and allergic disease: rs10515807, mapping to alpha-1B-adrenergic receptor (ADRA1B) gene on chromosome 5q33 (3.57×10-6); rs6052761, mapping to prion-related protein (PRNP) on chromosome 20pter-p12 (2.27×10-6); and rs1435879, mapping to dipeptidyl peptidase 10 (DPP10) on chromosome 2q12.3-q14.2. The generalizability of these findings was tested in family and case-control panels of UK and German origin, respectively, but none of the associations observed in the African groups were replicated in these European studies.
Evidence for association was also examined in four additional case-control studies of African Americans; however, none of the SNPs implicated in the discovery population were replicated. This study illustrates the complexity of identifying true associations for a complex and heterogeneous disease such as asthma in admixed populations, especially populations of African descent.
PMCID: PMC3606015  PMID: 19910028
Asthma; GWAS; ADRA1B; PRNP; DPP10; African ancestry; ethnicity; polymorphism; genetic association
17.  Predicting Asthma Exacerbations in Children 
Purpose of the review
To critically assess recently published literature on predicting asthma exacerbations in children, while also providing general recommendations for future research in this field.
Recent findings
Current evidence suggests that every effort should be made to provide optimal treatment to achieve adequate asthma control, as this will significantly reduce the risk of severe disease exacerbations. Children who have had at least one asthma exacerbation in the previous year are at highest risk for subsequent exacerbations, regardless of disease severity and/or control. Although several tools and biomarkers to predict asthma exacerbations have been recently developed, these approaches need further validation and/or have only had partial success in identifying children at risk.
Although considerable progress has been made, much remains to be done. Future studies should clearly differentiate severe asthma exacerbations due to inadequate asthma control from those occurring in children whose asthma is well controlled, utilize standardized definitions of asthma exacerbations, and use a systematic approach to identify the best predictors after accounting for the multiple dimensions of the problem. Our ability to correctly predict the development of severe asthma exacerbations in an individual child should improve in parallel with increased knowledge and/or understanding of the complex interactions among genetic, environmental (e.g., viral infections) and lifestyle (e.g., adherence to treatment) factors underlying these events.
PMCID: PMC3296525  PMID: 22081091
Childhood asthma; asthma exacerbations; prediction; risk factors; biomarkers
18.  Identification of FGF7 as a novel susceptibility locus for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Thorax  2011;66(12):1085-1090.
Traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of large cohort of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have successfully identified novel candidate genes, but several other plausible loci do not meet strict criteria for genome-wide significance after correction for multiple testing.
We hypothesize that by applying unbiased weights derived from unique populations we can identify additional COPD susceptibility loci.
We performed a homozygosity haplotype analysis on a group of subjects with and without COPD to identify regions of conserved homozygosity (RCHH). Weights were constructed based on the frequency of these RCHH in case vs. controls, and used to adjust the P values from a large collaborative GWAS of COPD.
We identified 2,318 regions of conserved homozygosity, of which 576 were significantly (P < .05) overrepresented in cases. After applying the weights constructed from these regions to a collaborative GWAS of COPD, we identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms in a novel gene (FGF7) that gained genome-wide significance by the false discovery rate method. In a follow-up analysis, both SNPs (rs12591300 and rs4480740) were significantly associated with COPD in an independent population (combined P values of 7.9E-07 and 2.8E-06 respectively). In another independent population, increased lung tissue FGF7 expression was associated with worse measures of lung function.
Weights constructed from a homozygosity haplotype analysis of an isolated population successfully identify novel genetic associations from a GWAS on a separate population. This method can be used to identify promising candidate genes that fail to meet strict correction for multiple testing.
PMCID: PMC3348619  PMID: 21921092
19.  Mouse Allergen, Lung Function, and Atopy in Puerto Rican Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40383.
To examine the relation between mouse allergen exposure and asthma in Puerto Rican children.
Mus m 1, Der p 1, Bla g 2, and Fel d 1 allergens were measured in dust samples from homes of Puerto Rican children with (cases) and without (controls) asthma in Hartford, CT (n = 449) and San Juan (SJ), Puerto Rico (n = 678). Linear or logistic regression was used for the multivariate analysis of mouse allergen (Mus m 1) and lung function (FEV1 and FEV1/FVC) and allergy (total IgE and skin test reactivity (STR) to ≥1 allergen) measures.
Homes in SJ had lower mouse allergen levels than those in Hartford. In multivariate analyses, mouse allergen was associated with higher FEV1 in cases in Hartford (+70.6 ml, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 8.6–132.7 ml, P = 0.03) and SJ (+45.1 ml, 95% CI =  −0.5 to 90.6 ml, P = 0.05). In multivariate analyses of controls, mouse allergen was inversely associated with STR to ≥1 allergen in non-sensitized children (odds ratio [OR] for each log-unit increment in Mus m 1 = 0.7, 95% CI = 0.5–0.9, P<0.01). In a multivariate analysis including all children at both study sites, each log-increment in mouse allergen was positively associated with FEV1 (+28.3 ml, 95% CI = 1.4–55.2 ml, P = 0.04) and inversely associated with STR to ≥1 allergen (OR for each log-unit increment in Mus m 1 = 0.8, 95% CI = 0.6–0.9, P<0.01).
Mouse allergen is associated with a higher FEV1 and lower odds of STR to ≥1 allergen in Puerto Rican children. This may be explained by the allergen itself or correlated microbial exposures.
PMCID: PMC3398035  PMID: 22815744
20.  Decreased response to inhaled steroids in overweight and obese asthmatic children 
The mechanisms and consequences of the observed association between obesity and childhood asthma are unclear.
To determine the effect of obesity on treatment responses to inhaled corticosteroids in asthmatic children.
We performed a post hoc analysis to evaluate the interaction between body mass index (BMI) and treatment with inhaled budesonide on lung function in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) trial. Participants were then stratified into overweight/obese and non-overweight, and their response to inhaled budesonide was analyzed longitudinally over the 4 years of the trial.
There was a significant interaction between BMI and budesonide for pre-BD FEV1/FVC (P=0.0007) and bronchodilator response (BDR) (P=0.049), and a non-significant trend for an interaction between BMI and budesonide on pre-BD FEV1 (P=0.15). Non-overweight children showed significant improvement with inhaled budesonide in lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC, and BDR) during the early (years 1–2) and late stages (years 3–4) of the trial. Overweight/obese children had improved FEV1 and BDR during the early but not the late stage of the trial, and showed no improvement in FEV1/FVC. When comparing time points where both groups showed significant response, the degree of improvement among non-overweight children was significantly greater than in overweight/obese children at most visits. Non-overweight children had a 44% reduction in the risk of ER visits or hospitalizations throughout the trial (P=0.001); there was no reduction in risk among overweight/obese (P=0.97).
Compared to children of normal weight, overweight/obese children in CAMP showed a decreased response to inhaled budesonide on measures of lung function and ER visits/hospitalizations for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3056233  PMID: 21377042
Asthma; obesity; pediatric asthma; childhood obesity; budesonide
21.  Serum Vitamin D Levels and Markers of Severity of Childhood Asthma in Costa Rica 
Rationale: Maternal vitamin D intake during pregnancy has been inversely associated with asthma symptoms in early childhood. However, no study has examined the relationship between measured vitamin D levels and markers of asthma severity in childhood.
Objectives: To determine the relationship between measured vitamin D levels and both markers of asthma severity and allergy in childhood.
Methods: We examined the relation between 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (the major circulating form of vitamin D) and markers of allergy and asthma severity in a cross-sectional study of 616 Costa Rican children between the ages of 6 and 14 years. Linear, logistic, and negative binomial regressions were used for the univariate and multivariate analyses.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 616 children with asthma, 175 (28%) had insufficient levels of vitamin D (<30 ng/ml). In multivariate linear regression models, vitamin D levels were significantly and inversely associated with total IgE and eosinophil count. In multivariate logistic regression models, a log10 unit increase in vitamin D levels was associated with reduced odds of any hospitalization in the previous year (odds ratio [OR], 0.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.004–0.71; P = 0.03), any use of antiinflammatory medications in the previous year (OR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.05–0.67; P = 0.01), and increased airway responsiveness (a ≤8.58-μmol provocative dose of methacholine producing a 20% fall in baseline FEV1 [OR, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.024–0.97; P = 0.05]).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that vitamin D insufficiency is relatively frequent in an equatorial population of children with asthma. In these children, lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased markers of allergy and asthma severity.
PMCID: PMC2675563  PMID: 19179486
22.  Diversity of the gut microbiota and eczema in early life 
A modest number of prospective studies of the composition of the intestinal microbiota and eczema in early life have yielded conflicting results.
To examine the relationship between the bacterial diversity of the gut and the development of eczema in early life by methods other than stool culture.
Fecal samples were collected from 21 infants at 1 and 4 months of life. Nine infants were diagnosed with eczema by the age of 6 months (cases) and 12 infants were not (controls). After conducting denaturating gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of stool samples, we compared the microbial diversity of cases and controls using the number of electrophoretic bands and the Shannon index of diversity (H') as indicators.
Control subjects had significantly greater fecal microbial diversity than children with eczema at ages 1 (mean H' for controls = 0.75 vs. 0.53 for cases, P = 0.01) and 4 months (mean H' for controls = 0.92 vs. 0.59 for cases, P = 0.02). The increase in diversity from 1 to 4 months of age was significant in controls (P = 0.04) but not in children who developed eczema by 6 months of age (P = 0.32).
Our findings suggest that reduced microbial diversity is associated with the development of eczema in early life.
PMCID: PMC2562383  PMID: 18808715

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