The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) has characterized over the past 10 years 1,644 patients with asthma, including 583 individuals with severe asthma. SARP collaboration has led to a rapid recruitment of subjects and efficient sharing of samples among participating sites to conduct independent mechanistic investigations of severe asthma. Enrolled SARP subjects underwent detailed clinical, physiologic, genomic, and radiological evaluations. In addition, SARP investigators developed safe procedures for bronchoscopy in participants with asthma, including those with severe disease. SARP studies revealed that severe asthma is a heterogeneous disease with varying molecular, biochemical, and cellular inflammatory features and unique structure–function abnormalities. Priorities for future studies include recruitment of a larger number of subjects with severe asthma, including children, to allow further characterization of anatomic, physiologic, biochemical, and genetic factors related to severe disease in a longitudinal assessment to identify factors that modulate the natural history of severe asthma and provide mechanistic rationale for management strategies.
asthma; remodeling; inflammation; bronchoscopy; imaging
asthma genetics; atopy; C11orf30; LRRC32; total serum IgE levels
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function (i.e. FEV1) before and after the administration of a short-acting β2-agonist, the most common rescue medications used for the treatment of asthma. BDR also serves as a test of β2-agonist efficacy. BDR is a complex trait that is partly under genetic control. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BDR, quantified as percent change in baseline FEV1 after administration of a β2-agonist, was performed with 1,644 non-Hispanic white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials: CAMP, LOCCS, LODO, a medication trial conducted by Sepracor, CARE, and ACRN. Data for 469,884 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were used to measure the association of SNPs with BDR using a linear regression model, while adjusting for age, sex, and height. Replication of primary P-values was attempted in 501 white subjects from SARP and 550 white subjects from DAG. Experimental evidence supporting the top gene was obtained via siRNA knockdown and Western blotting analyses. The lowest overall combined P-value was 9.7E-07 for SNP rs295137, near the SPATS2L gene. Among subjects in the primary analysis, those with rs295137 TT genotype had a median BDR of 16.0 (IQR = [6.2, 32.4]), while those with CC or TC genotypes had a median BDR of 10.9 (IQR = [5.0, 22.2]). SPATS2L mRNA knockdown resulted in increased β2-adrenergic receptor levels. Our results suggest that SPATS2L may be an important regulator of β2-adrenergic receptor down-regulation and that there is promise in gaining a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of differential response to β2-agonists through GWAS.
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function before and after the administration of short-acting β2-agonists, common medications used for asthma treatment. We performed a genome-wide association study of BDR with 1,644 white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials and attempted to replicate these findings in 1,051 white subjects from two independent cohorts. The most significant associated variant was near the SPATS2L gene. We knocked down SPATS2L mRNA in human airway smooth muscle cells and found that β2-adrenergic receptor levels increased, suggesting that SPATS2L may be a regulator of BDR. Our results highlight the promise of pursuing GWAS results that do not necessarily reach genome-wide significance and are an example of how results from pharmacogenetic GWAS can be studied functionally.
Two recent large meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies of lung function in general populations of European descent identified 11 candidate genes/regions. The importance of these genes in lung function in whites and African Americans with asthma is unknown.
To determine if genes that regulate lung function in general populations are associated with lung function abnormalities in subjects with asthma from different racial groups.
SNPs were tested in five asthma populations (n = 1,441) for association with pulmonary function and meta-analysis was performed across populations. The SNPs with the highest significance were then tested for association with bronchodilator reversibility and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine (BHR). A joint analysis of consistently replicated SNPs was performed to predict lung function in asthma.
Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) on chromosome 4q31 was associated with lung function in all five populations, rs1512288: Pmeta = 9.62E-05 and 3.23E-05 for ppFEV1 and ppFVC, respectively. The SNPs in HHIP were also associated with reversibility (P < 0.05) but not BHR. Because of differences in linkage disequilibrium in the African-American subjects, the most relevant SNPs in HHIP were identified. A subset of normal lung function genes, including HHIP, family with sequence similarity 13, member A (FAM13A), and patched homolog 1 (PTCH1), together predict lung function abnormalities, a measure of severity in whites and African Americans with asthma.
A subset of the genes, including HHIP, which regulate lung function in general populations are associated with abnormal lung function in asthma in non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.
Asthma; Genetics; Asthma severity; Meta-analysis; FEV1; FVC; FEV1/FVC; HHIP; FAM13A; PTCH1
Evidence suggests that variation in the length of the poly-C repeat in the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of the β2-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRB2) may contribute to interindividual variation in β-agonist response. However, methodology in previous studies limited the assessment of the effect of sequence variation in the context of poly-C repeat length. The objectives of this study were to design a novel genotyping method to fully characterize sequence variation in the ADRB2 3′UTR poly-C repeat in asthma patients treated with inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting β2-adrenergic agonist (ICS/LABA) combination therapy, and to analyze the effect of the poly-C repeat polymorphism on clinical response.
In 2,250 asthma patients randomized to treatment with budesonide/formoterol or fluticasone/salmeterol in a six-month study (AstraZeneca study code: SD-039-0735), sequence diversity in the ADRB2 poly-C repeat region was determined using a novel sequencing-based genotyping method. The relationship between the poly-C repeat polymorphism and the incidence of severe asthma exacerbations, and changes in pulmonary function and asthma symptoms from baseline to the average during the treatment period, were analyzed.
Poly-C repeat genotypes were assigned in 97% (2,192/2,250) of patients. Of the 13 different poly-C repeat alleles identified, six alleles occurred at a frequency of >5% in one or more population in this study. The repeat length of these six common alleles ranged from 10 to 14 nucleotides. Twelve poly-C repeat genotypes were observed at a frequency of >1%. No evidence of an association between poly-C repeat genotype and the incidence of severe asthma exacerbations was observed. Patients’ pulmonary function measurements improved and asthma symptoms declined when treated with ICS/LABA combination therapy regardless of poly-C repeat genotype.
The extensive sequence diversity present in the poly-C repeat region of the ADRB2 3′UTR did not predict therapeutic response to ICS/LABA therapy.
Asthma; β2-agonist; Inhaled corticosteroid; Genotype; Polymorphism; β2-adrenergic receptor; 3′ untranslated region; Poly-C repeat
Rationale: β2-agonists, the most common treatment for asthma, have a wide interindividual variability in response, which is partially attributed to genetic factors. We previously identified single nucleotide polymorphisms in the arginase 1 (ARG1) gene, which are associated with β2-agonist bronchodilator response (BDR).
Objectives: To identify cis-acting haplotypes in the ARG1 locus that are associated with BDR in patients with asthma and regulate gene expression in vitro.
Methods: We resequenced ARG1 in 96 individuals and identified three common, 5′ haplotypes (denoted 1, 2, and 3). A haplotype-based association analysis of BDR was performed in three independent, adult asthma drug trial populations. Next, each haplotype was cloned into vectors containing a luciferase reporter gene and transfected into human airway epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) to ascertain its effect on gene expression.
Measurements and Main Results: BDR varied by haplotype in each of the three populations with asthma. Individuals with haplotype 1 were more likely to have higher BDR, compared to those with haplotypes 2 and 3, which is supported by odds ratios of 1.25 (95% confidence interval, 1.03–1.71) and 2.18 (95% confidence interval, 1.34–2.52), respectively. Luciferase expression was 50% greater in cells transfected with haplotype 1 compared to haplotypes 2 and 3.
Conclusions: The identified ARG1 haplotypes seem to alter BDR and differentially regulate gene expression with a concordance of decreased BDR and reporter activity from haplotypes 2 and 3. These findings may facilitate pharmacogenetic tests to predict individuals who may benefit from other therapeutic agents in addition to β2-agonists for optimal asthma management.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00156819, NCT00046644, and NCT00073840).
pharmacogenetics; asthma; β2-agonist
Asthma in children is a heterogeneous disorder with many phenotypes. Although unsupervised cluster analysis is a useful tool for identifying phenotypes, it has not been applied to school-age children with persistent asthma across a wide range of severities.
This study determined how children with severe asthma are distributed across a cluster analysis and how well these clusters conform to current definitions of asthma severity.
Cluster analysis was applied to 12 continuous and composite variables from 161 children at 5 centers enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP).
Four clusters of asthma were identified. Children in Cluster 1 (n = 48) had relatively normal lung function and less atopy, while children in Cluster 2 (n = 52) had slightly lower lung function, more atopy, and increased symptoms and medication usage. Cluster 3 (n = 32) had greater co-morbidity, increased bronchial responsiveness and lower lung function. Cluster 4 (n = 29) had the lowest lung function and the greatest symptoms and medication usage. Predictors of cluster assignment were asthma duration, the number of asthma controller medications, and baseline lung function. Children with severe asthma were present in all clusters, and no cluster corresponded to definitions of asthma severity provided in asthma treatment guidelines.
Severe asthma in children is highly heterogeneous. Unique phenotypic clusters previously identified in adults can also be identified in children, but with important differences. Larger validation and longitudinal studies are needed to determine the baseline and predictive validity of these phenotypic clusters in the larger clinical setting.
Allergic sensitization; Asthma; Severe asthma; Asthma guidelines; Children; Cluster analysis; Lung function; Phenotype
The T helper 2 (Th2) inflammatory pathway, including the Th2-activating cytokine interleukin 33 and its receptor interleukin 1 receptor-like 1 have been strongly implicated in asthma susceptibility (Moffatt MF, et al NEJM 2010). However, the role of Th2 pathway genetic variation in asthma progression and severity is not well understood. Our research group recently developed a clustering algorithm based on comprehensive phenotype information to assign subjects with asthma in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) to 5 primary clusters; 3 of which represent increasing severe allergic asthma (Moore WC, et al AJRCCM, 2010). We hypothesized that common and potentially deleterious rare variation in this pathway would be associated with severe asthma based on SARP cluster designation.
To evaluate common variants (minor allele frequency or MAF >5%), 419 SARP non-Hispanic white participants with a cluster assignment were genotyped for 182 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in Th2 pathway genes using whole-genome SNP data. Individual SNPs and a cumulative model of significant SNPs were evaluated using contingency tables with a chi-square test for trend and ordinal regression models adjusted for age, sex, and principal components. Rare (MAF <5%) amino acid changes and splice site alterations in this pathway were tested for association with asthma severity outcomes in 20 SARP subjects with whole exome sequence data.
Individual Th2 pathway variants were associated with overall SARP cluster assignment, and allergic clusters of increasing severity (1, 2, and 4), including GATA3 polymorphism rs1244186 (P = 0.005). In an 18-SNP additive model, an increasing number of Th2 pathway risk genotypes were highly associated with severe allergic asthma (P = 3.9 × 10−6). For example, in cluster 4, the percentage of subjects with at least 9 risk genotypes was 83% compared to 35% in cluster 1. Additionally, there was evidence that subjects with rare variants in this pathway were more likely to report allergy symptoms (P = 0.006), especially in the fall (P = 0.003), compared to subjects with no rare variants.
Common Th2 pathway variants predict an increased likelihood of severe allergic asthma and rare variants were associated with increased seasonal allergy symptoms.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma and asthma-related traits, including our previous TENOR study1, have consistently identified ORMDL3-GSDMB, IL33, IL1RL1-IL18R1, RAD50-IL13, TSLP-WDR36, and HLA-DR/DQ regions.2
In this study, GWAS of asthma was performed in non-Hispanic white population from STAMPEED study (813 cases and 1564 controls). Our GWAS results were compared with the published GWAS of asthma and autoimmune diseases (AD).
Multiple SNPs in TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1 (TNIP1) on chromosome 5q32-q33.1 were associated with asthma in STAMPEED: rs1422673 (P = 3.44 × 10−7) and rs10036748 (P = 1.41 × 10−6). rs1422673 was weakly associated with asthma in the published GABRIEL study (P = 0.018 for meta-analysis)2 but not in the TENOR study (P = 0.18 but same trend).1
TNIP1 may interact with TNFAIP3 and inhibit TNFα-induced NFκB inflammation pathway. Joint analyses were performed on 6 SNPs in GSDMB (rs2872507), IL33 (rs3939286), IL1RL1 (rs13431828), IL13 (rs20541), TSLP (rs1837253), and HLA-DRA (rs2395185) in STAMPEED and TENOR populations, but only limited variance can be explained (percentage of deviance = 1.5–1.9%; the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) = 0.58–0.59). Minor allele T of rs20541 in IL13 is the risk allele for asthma but the protective allele for psoriasis. Minor allele A of rs2872507 in GSDMB is the protective allele for asthma but the risk allele for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. T allele of rs10036748 in TNIP1 is the minor protective allele for asthma, but the minor or major risk allele for systemic lupus erythematosus in non-Hispanic white or Chinese population, respectively.
Our study provides genetic evidence that asthma and AD have opposite immunopathogenesis directions.
Interleukin 6 (IL6) belongs to a family of cytokines with both pro- and anti-inflammatory properties. The functional relationship between IL6 signaling and airway disease has not be well characterized; however, IL6 expression is increased during lung inflammation and injury. In this study, serum IL6 and soluble IL6R levels were assessed in non-Hispanic whites with asthma from the Severe Asthma Research Program. Correlations between serum IL6 and IL6R levels, lung function, phenotypic asthma clusters, and asthma severity were evaluated.
Serum IL6 and soluble IL6R was measured in 149 subjects with mild to severe asthma. Serum sIL6R levels were measured using the sIL-6R DuoSet (R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN) ELISA kit and reported as ng/ml. Serum IL6 measurements were determined using the IL-6 ELISA kit (R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN) and reported as pg/ml. Serum IL6 and sIL6R measurements were transformed to normalize distribution. The continuous variables analyzed included: % predicted FEV1 [ppFEV1], % predicted FVC [ppFVC], and FEV1/FVC. Serum samples were collected at Wake Forest. Phenotypic asthma clusters were derived as previously described (Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:315–323).
Elevated serum IL6 was associated with lower ppFEV1 (P = 0.02) and lower ppFVC (P = 0.003), while elevated serum soluble IL6R was associated with lower ppFEV1 (P = 0.02) and lower ppFVC (P = 0.008). Increasing trends in serum IL6 were observed in atopic asthma Clusters 2 and 4 and the later onset fixed airways obstruction Cluster 5. The highest IL6 serum levels were observed in Cluster 3 characterized has having late onset asthma and elevated BMI. Serum IL6 levels were elevated in subjects with severe asthma (log IL6 = 0.33; N = 25) compared to subjects with mild/moderate asthma (log IL6 = 0.16; N = 69).
Serum IL6 and sIL6R levels are elevated in non-Hispanic white asthma subjects with lower lung function. Serum IL6 and sIL6R are potentially important biomarkers that may distinguish between non-severe and severe asthma and between atopic asthma Clusters.
The overall purpose of this review is to present an update on genetic approaches to understanding susceptibility and expression (severity) of common diseases such as asthma and allergy. There are five key questions that will be addressed in this review: 1. What phenotypes are being studied? Multiple disease phenotypes in carefully characterized patients are required. 2. Are the same genes that are important in disease susceptibility, important in disease severity? 3. Are there racial differences in disease expression and genetic susceptibility? 4. Are the genes important in normal variation in lung function important in asthma severity? 5. Are the genes important in other common diseases such as chronic inflammatory diseases or COPD important in asthma or allergy? In addition, a discussion of some of current areas of research is presented, including the issue that current GWAS results did not account for a significant portion of trait variability, the potential role of rare variants and large genome sequencing studies and pharmacogenetics – is there a role for basing treatment decisions on the results of genetic testing? Finally the potential usefulness of DNA, personalized medicine, is discussed.
asthma; genetics; asthma genetics; genomics; GWAS; IgE
Asthma is caused by a heterogeneous combination of environmental and genetic factors. In the context of GA2LEN (Global Allergy and Asthma European Network), we carried out meta-analyses of almost all genome-wide linkage screens conducted to date in 20 independent populations from different ethnic origins (≥3024 families with ≥10 027 subjects) for asthma, atopic asthma, bronchial hyper-responsiveness and five atopy-related traits (total immunoglobulin E level, positive skin test response (SPT) to at least one allergen or to House Dust Mite, quantitative score of SPT (SPTQ) and eosinophils (EOS)). We used the genome scan meta-analysis method to assess evidence for linkage within bins of traditionally 30-cM width, and explored the manner in which these results were affected by bin definition. Meta-analyses were conducted in all studies and repeated in families of European ancestry. Genome-wide evidence for linkage was detected for asthma in two regions (2p21–p14 and 6p21) in European families ascertained through two asthmatic sibs. With regard to atopy phenotypes, four regions reached genome-wide significance: 3p25.3–q24 in all families for SPT and three other regions in European families (2q32–q34 for EOS, 5q23–q33 for SPTQ and 17q12–q24 for SPT). Tests of heterogeneity showed consistent evidence of linkage of SPTQ to 3p11–3q21, whereas between-study heterogeneity was detected for asthma in 2p22–p13 and 6p21, and for atopic asthma in 1q23–q25. This large-scale meta-analysis provides an important resource of information that can be used to prioritize further fine-mapping studies and also be integrated with genome-wide association studies to increase power and better interpret the outcomes of these studies.
asthma; atopy; meta-analysis; linkage scan
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has adverse effects on the health of asthmatics, however the harmful consequences of ETS in relation to asthma severity are unknown.
In a multicenter study of severe asthma, we assessed the impact of ETS exposure on morbidity, health care utilization and lung functions; and activity of systemic superoxide dismutase (SOD), a potential oxidative target of ETS that is negatively associated with asthma severity.
From 2002–2006, 654 asthmatics (non-severe 366, severe 288) were enrolled, among whom 109 non-severe and 67 severe asthmatics were routinely exposed to ETS as ascertained by history and validated by urine cotinine levels. ETS-exposure was associated with lower quality of life scores; greater rescue inhaler use; lower lung function; greater bronchodilator responsiveness; and greater risk for emergency room visits, hospitalization and intensive care unit admission. ETS-exposure was associated with lower levels of serum SOD activity, particularly in asthmatic women of African heritage.
ETS-exposure of asthmatic individuals is associated with worse lung function, higher acuity of exacerbations, more health care utilization, and greater bronchial hyperreactivity. The association of diminished systemic SOD activity to ETS exposure provides for the first time a specific oxidant mechanism by which ETS may adversely affect patients with asthma.
Patients with severe asthma have increased granulocytes in their sputum compared to patients with mild to moderate asthma.
We hypothesized that inflammatory granulocytes in sputum may identify specific asthma severity phenotypes and are associated with different patterns of inflammatory proteins in sputum supernatants.
This hypothesis was tested in 242 asthmatics enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program who provided sputum samples for cell count, differential cell determinations, cell lysates for Western blot, and supernatant analyses by inflammatory protein microarrays and ELISAs. ANOVA and multiple linear regression models tested mediator associations.
Stratified by sputum granulocytes, < or ≥2%eosinophils and < or ≥40%neutrophils, subjects with both increased eosinophils and neutrophils had the lowest lung function, increased symptoms and healthcare utilization. Subjects with elevated eosinophils with or without increased neutrophils had significantly increased FeNO, serum eosinophils and greater frequency of daily β-agonist use. Microarray data, stratified by granulocytes revealed 25–28 inflammatory proteins increased >2-fold in sputa with ≥40% neutrophils. Microarray analyses stratified by severity of asthma, identified 6–9 proteins increased >2-fold in sputa in subjects with severe asthma compared to nonsevere asthma. ELISA data, stratified by sputum granulocytes, showed significant increases in BDNF, IL-1β, and MIP-3α/CCL20 for those with ≥40%neutrophils; these mediators demonstrated positive associations with neutrophil counts.
Combined increased sputum eosinophils and neutrophils identified asthmatics with the lowest lung function and worse asthma control, increased symptoms and healthcare requirements. Inflammatory protein analyses of sputum supernatants found novel mediators increased in asthmatics, predominantly associated with increased sputum neutrophils.
asthma phenotypes; protein microarrays; BDNF; CXCL13; TNFSF14; CCL20; CCL18
Long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) therapy improves symptoms in patients whose asthma is poorly controlled by an inhaled glucocorticoid alone. Alternative treatments for adults with uncontrolled asthma are needed.
In a three-way, double-blind, triple-dummy crossover trial involving 210 patients with asthma, we evaluated the addition of tiotropium bromide (a long-acting anticholinergic agent approved for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but not asthma) to an inhaled glucocorticoid, as compared with a doubling of the dose of the inhaled glucocorticoid (primary superiority comparison) or the addition of the LABA salmeterol (secondary noninferiority comparison).
The use of tiotropium resulted in a superior primary outcome, as compared with a doubling of the dose of an inhaled glucocorticoid, as assessed by measuring the morning peak expiratory flow (PEF), with a mean difference of 25.8 liters per minute (P<0.001) and superiority in most secondary outcomes, including evening PEF, with a difference of 35.3 liters per minute (P<0.001); the proportion of asthma-control days, with a difference of 0.079 (P = 0.01); the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) before bronchodilation, with a difference of 0.10 liters (P = 0.004); and daily symptom scores, with a difference of −0.11 points (P<0.001). The addition of tiotropium was also noninferior to the addition of salmeterol for all assessed outcomes and increased the prebronchodilator FEV1 more than did salmeterol, with a difference of 0.11 liters (P = 0.003).
When added to an inhaled glucocorticoid, tiotropium improved symptoms and lung function in patients with inadequately controlled asthma. Its effects appeared to be equivalent to those with the addition of salmeterol. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00565266.)
Rationale: The Severe Asthma Research Program cohort includes subjects with persistent asthma who have undergone detailed phenotypic characterization. Previous univariate methods compared features of mild, moderate, and severe asthma.
Objectives: To identify novel asthma phenotypes using an unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis.
Methods: Reduction of the initial 628 variables to 34 core variables was achieved by elimination of redundant data and transformation of categorical variables into ranked ordinal composite variables. Cluster analysis was performed on 726 subjects.
Measurements and Main Results: Five groups were identified. Subjects in Cluster 1 (n = 110) have early onset atopic asthma with normal lung function treated with two or fewer controller medications (82%) and minimal health care utilization. Cluster 2 (n = 321) consists of subjects with early-onset atopic asthma and preserved lung function but increased medication requirements (29% on three or more medications) and health care utilization. Cluster 3 (n = 59) is a unique group of mostly older obese women with late-onset nonatopic asthma, moderate reductions in FEV1, and frequent oral corticosteroid use to manage exacerbations. Subjects in Clusters 4 (n = 120) and 5 (n = 116) have severe airflow obstruction with bronchodilator responsiveness but differ in to their ability to attain normal lung function, age of asthma onset, atopic status, and use of oral corticosteroids.
Conclusions: Five distinct clinical phenotypes of asthma have been identified using unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis. All clusters contain subjects who meet the American Thoracic Society definition of severe asthma, which supports clinical heterogeneity in asthma and the need for new approaches for the classification of disease severity in asthma.
asthma phenotype; definition; cluster analysis; severe asthma
Asthma is a heterogeneous disease that is caused by the interaction of genetic susceptibility with environmental influences. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) represent a powerful approach to investigate the association of DNA variants with disease susceptibility. To date, few GWAS for asthma have been reported.
GWAS was performed on a population of severe or difficult-to-treat asthmatics to identify genes that are involved in the pathogenesis of asthma.
292,443 SNPs were tested for association with asthma in 473 TENOR cases and 1,892 Illumina general population controls. Asthma-related quantitative traits (total serum IgE, FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC) were also tested in identified candidate regions in 473 TENOR cases and 363 phenotyped controls without a history of asthma to further analyze GWAS results. Imputation was performed in identified candidate regions for analysis with denser SNP coverage.
Multiple SNPs in the RAD50-IL13 region on chromosome 5q31.1 were associated with asthma: rs2244012 in intron 2 of RAD50 (P = 3.04E-07). The HLA-DR/DQ region on chromosome 6p21.3 was also associated with asthma: rs1063355 in the 3’ UTR of HLA-DQB1 (P = 9.55E-06). Imputation identified several significant SNPs in the TH2 locus control region (LCR) 3’ of RAD50. Imputation also identified a more significant SNP, rs3998159 (P = 1.45E-06), between HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2.
This GWAS confirmed the important role of TH2 cytokine and antigen presentation genes in asthma at a genome-wide level and the importance of additional investigation of these two regions to delineate their structural complexity and biologic function in the development of asthma.
Asthma; GWAS; RAD50; IL13; HLA-DQB1; TENOR
Rationale: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease that affects more than 300 million individuals worldwide. Asthma is caused by interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is a hallmark of asthma and results from increased sensitivity of the airways to physical or chemical stimulants. BHR and asthma are linked to chromosome 5q31-q33.
Objectives: To identify a gene for BHR on chromosome 5q31-q33.
Methods: In 200 Dutch families with asthma, linkage analysis and fine mapping were performed, and the Protocadherin 1 gene (PCDH1) was identified. PCDH1 was resequenced in 96 subjects from ethnically diverse populations to identify novel sequence variants. Subsequent replication studies were undertaken in seven populations from The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including two general population samples, two family samples, and three case-control samples. PCDH1 mRNA and protein expression was investigated using polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results: In seven out of eight populations (n = 6,168) from The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States, PCHD1 gene variants were significantly associated with BHR (P values, 0.005–0.05) This association was present in both families with asthma and general populations. PCDH1 mRNA and protein were expressed in airway epithelial cells and in macrophages.
Conclusions: PCDH1 is a novel gene for BHR in adults and children. The identification of PCDH1 as a BHR susceptibility gene may suggest that a structural defect in the integrity of the airway epithelium, the first line of defense against inhaled substances, contributes to the development of BHR.
bronchial hyperresponsiveness; asthma genetics; protocadherin-1; cell adhesion; airway epithelium
Severe asthma causes the majority of asthma morbidity. Understanding mechanisms that contribute to the development of severe disease is important.
The goal of the Severe Asthma Research Program is to identify and characterize subjects with severe asthma to understand pathophysiologic mechanisms in severe asthma.
We performed a comprehensive phenotypic characterization (questionnaires, atopy and pulmonary function testing, phlebotomy, exhaled nitric oxide) in subjects with severe and not severe asthma.
A total of 438 subjects with asthma were studied (204 severe, 70 moderate, 164 mild). Severe subjects with asthma were older with longer disease duration (P < .0001), more daily symptoms, intense urgent health care utilization, sinusitis, and pneumonia (P ≤ .0001). Lung function was lower in severe asthma with marked bronchodilator reversibility (P < .001). The severe group had less atopy by skin tests (P = .0007), but blood eosinophils, IgE, and exhaled nitric oxide levels did not differentiate disease severity. A reduced FEV1, history of pneumonia, and fewer positive skin tests were risk factors for severe disease. Early disease onset (age < 12 years) in severe asthma was associated with longer disease duration (P < .0001) and more urgent health care, especially intensive care (P = .002). Later disease onset (age ≥ 12 years) was associated with lower lung function and sinopulmonary infections (P ≤ .02).
Severe asthma is characterized by abnormal lung function that is responsive to bronchodilators, a history of sinopulmonary infections, persistent symptoms, and increased health care utilization.
Lung function abnormalities in severe asthma are reversible in most patients, and pneumonia is a risk factor for the development of severe disease.
Severe asthma; definition; bronchodilator response; pathophysiology; phenotype; pneumonia
Rationale: Inhaled β-agonists are one of the most widely used classes of drugs for the treatment of asthma. However, a substantial proportion of patients with asthma do not have a favorable response to these drugs, and identifying genetic determinants of drug response may aid in tailoring treatment for individual patients.
Objectives: To screen variants in candidate genes in the steroid and β-adrenergic pathways for association with response to inhaled β-agonists.
Methods: We genotyped 844 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 111 candidate genes in 209 children and their parents participating in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. We screened the association of these SNPs with acute response to inhaled β-agonists (bronchodilator response [BDR]) using a novel algorithm implemented in a family-based association test that ranked SNPs in order of statistical power. Genes that had SNPs with median power in the highest quartile were then taken for replication analyses in three other asthma cohorts.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 17 genes from the screening algorithm and genotyped 99 SNPs from these genes in a second population of patients with asthma. We then genotyped 63 SNPs from four genes with significant associations with BDR, for replication in a third and fourth population of patients with asthma. Evidence for association from the four asthma cohorts was combined, and SNPs from ARG1 were significantly associated with BDR. SNP rs2781659 survived Bonferroni correction for multiple testing (combined P value = 0.00048, adjusted P value = 0.047).
Conclusions: These findings identify ARG1 as a novel gene for acute BDR in both children and adults with asthma.
pharmacogenetics; asthma; bronchodilator agents
Variation in ADAM33 has been shown to be important in the development of asthma and altered lung function. This relationship however, has not been investigated in the population susceptible to COPD; long term tobacco smokers. We evaluated the association between polymorphisms in ADAM33 gene with COPD and lung function in long term tobacco smokers.
Caucasian subjects, at least 50 year old, who smoked ≥ 20 pack-years (n = 880) were genotyped for 25 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ADAM33. COPD was defined as an FEV1/FVC ratio < 70% and percent-predicted (pp)FEV1 < 75% (n = 287). The control group had an FEV1/FVC ratio ≥ 70% and ppFEV1 ≥ 80% (n = 311) despite ≥ 20 pack years of smoking. Logistic and linear regressions were used for the analysis. Age, sex, and smoking status were considered as potential confounders.
Five SNPs in ADAM33 were associated with COPD (Q-1, intronic: p < 0.003; S1, Ile → Val: p < 0.003; S2, Gly → Gly: p < 0.04; V-1 intronic: p < 0.002; V4, in 3' untranslated region: p < 0.007). Q-1, S1 and V-1 were also associated with ppFEV1, FEV1/FVC ratio and ppFEF25–75 (p values 0.001 – 0.02). S2 was associated with FEV1/FVC ratio (p < 0.05). The association between S1 and residual volume revealed a trend toward significance (p value < 0.07). Linkage disequilibrium and haplotype analyses suggested that S1 had the strongest degree of association with COPD and pulmonary function abnormalities.
Five SNPs in ADAM33 were associated with COPD and lung function in long-term smokers. Functional studies will be needed to evaluate the biologic significance of these polymorphisms in the pathogenesis of COPD.
Background: Severe asthma has been associated with severe exacerbations, lower lung function and greater tissue inflammation. Previous studies have suggested that mutations in interleukin-4 receptor α (IL4Rα) are associated with lower lung function, higher IgE, and a gain in receptor function. However, an effect on exacerbations and tissue inflammation has not been shown.
Hypothesis: Allelic substitutions in IL4Rα are associated with asthma exacerbations, lower lung function, and tissue inflammation, in particular to mast cells and IgE.
Methods: Two well-characterized cohorts of subjects with severe asthma were analyzed for five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL4Rα. These polymorphisms were compared with the history of severe asthma exacerbations and lung function. In the primary (National Jewish) cohort, these polymorphisms were also compared with endobronchial tissue inflammatory cells and local IgE.
Results: In both cohorts, the presence of the minor alleles at E375A and Q551R, which were more common in African Americans, was associated with a history of severe exacerbations and lower lung function. In the National Jewish cohort, the C allele at E375A was associated with higher tissue mast cells and higher levels of IgE bound to mast cells. The significance for most of these associations remained when whites (the larger racial subgroup) were analyzed separately.
Conclusions: SNPs in IL4Rα, which are more common in African Americans, are associated with severe asthma exacerbations, lower lung function, and increased mast cell–related tissue inflammation. Further studies of the impact of these mutations in African Americans and on receptor function are indicated.
asthma; genetics; IL4Rα; exacerbations; mast cells; IgE
Background and Purpose
Endothelial nitric oxide exerts a variety of protective effects on endothelial cells and blood vessels, and therefore the nitric oxide synthase 3 gene (NOS3) is a logical candidate gene for stroke susceptibility.
We used the population-based Stroke Prevention in Young Women case-control study to assess the association of five NOS3 polymorphisms in 110 cases (46% black) with ischemic stroke and 206 controls (38% black), 15 to 44 years of age. Polymorphisms included 3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the promoter region (−1468 T>A, −922 G>A, −786 T>C), 1 SNP in exon 7 (G894T), and 1 insertion/deletion polymorphism within intron 4.
Significant associations with both the −922 G>A and −786 T>C SNPs with ischemic stroke were observed in the black, but not the white, population. This association was attributable to an increased prevalence of the −922 A allele (OR=3.0, 95% CI=1.3 to 6.8; P=0.005) and the −786 T allele (OR=2.9, 95% CI=1.3 to 6.4; P=0.005) in cases versus controls. These 2 SNPs were in strong linkage disequilibrium (D′=1.0), making it impossible to determine, within the confines of this genetic study, whether 1 or both of these polymorphisms are functionally related to NOS3 expression. Two sets of haplotypes were also identified, 1 of which may confer an increased susceptibility to stroke in blacks, whereas the other appears to be protective.
Promoter variants in NOS3 may be associated with ischemic stroke susceptibility among young black women.
genetics; nitric oxide; women and minorities; young, stroke in
Rationale: The comprehensive evaluation of gene variation, haplotype structure, and linkage disequilibrium is important in understanding the function of β2-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRβ2) on disease susceptibility, pulmonary function, and therapeutic responses in different ethnic groups with asthma.
Objectives: To identify ADRβ2 polymorphisms and haplotype structure in white and African American subjects and to test for genotype and haplotype association with asthma phenotypes.
Methods: A 5.3-kb region of ADRβ2 was resequenced in 669 individuals from 429 whites and 240 African Americans. A total of 12 polymorphisms, representing an optimal haplotype tagging set, were genotyped in whites (338 patients and 326 control subjects) and African Americans (222 patients and 299 control subjects).
Results: A total of 49 polymorphisms were identified, 21 of which are novel; 31 polymorphisms (frequency > 0.03) were used to identify 24 haplotypes (frequency > 0.01) and assess linkage disequilibrium. Association with ratio (FEV1/FVC)2 for single-nucleotide polymorphism +79 (p < 0.05) was observed in African Americans. Significant haplotype association for (FEV1/FVC)2 was also observed in African Americans.
Conclusions: There are additional genetic variants besides +46 (Gly16Arg) that are important in determining asthma phenotypes. These data suggest that the length of a poly-C repeat (+1269) in the 3′ untranslated region of ADRβ2 may influence lung function, and may be important in delineating variation in β-agonist responses, especially in African Americans.
asthma; β2-adrenergic receptor; β-agonist therapy; DNA polymorphisms; pharmacogenomics
Changes in pulmonary function are important in determining asthma outcome. Genetic factors may influence airway obstruction in asthma. We performed a genomewide screen in 200 families of probands objectively diagnosed with asthma in the 1960s to identify chromosomal regions related to changes in pre- and postbronchodilator lung function (FEV1, VC, and FEV1%VC) and assess influences of early-life smoke exposure. Smoking (pack-years), age, sex, and height were covariates in variance component analyses. Significant evidence for linkage of pre- and postbronchodilator FEV1%VC was obtained for chromosome 2q32 (LOD,4.9, increasing to 6.03 with additional fine-mapping markers, and 3.2, respectively). Linkage existed for chromosome 5q for pre- and postbronchodilator VC (likelihood of disease [LOD], 1.8 and 2.6, respectively). Results for pre- and postbronchodilator FEV1 were less significant (LOD, 1.5 and 1.6, chromosomes 11p and 10q, respectively). Results were not affected by passive smoke exposure. There is significant evidence for linkage of FEV1%VC to chromosome 2q32 in families of probands with asthma, 35 cM proximal from linkage previously observed in families of probands with early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thus, there may be multiple genes on chromosome 2q that are important in determining presence and degree of airflow limitation in families ascertained for obstructive airway disease.
asthma; function; genes; linkage; lung