It has recently been shown that vitamin D deficiency can increase asthma development and severity and that variations in vitamin D receptor genes are associated with asthma susceptibility.
We sought to find genetic factors that might interact with vitamin D levels to affect the risk of asthma exacerbation. Methods: We conducted a genome-wide study of gene–vitamin D interaction on asthma exacerbations using population-based and family-based approaches on 403 subjects and trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Twenty-three polymorphisms with significant interactions were studied in a replication analysis in 584 children from a Costa Rican cohort. Results: We identified 3 common variants in the class I MHC–restricted T cell–associated molecule gene (CRTAM) that were associated with an increased rate of asthma exacerbations based on the presence of a low circulating vitamin D level. These results were replicated in a second independent population (unadjusted combined interaction, P =.00028–.00097; combined odds ratio, 3.28–5.38). One variant, rs2272094, is a nonsynonymous coding polymorphism of CRTAM. Functional studies on cell lines confirmed the interaction of vitamin D and rs2272094 on CRTAM expression. CRTAM is highly expressed in activated human CD8+ and natural killer T cells, both of which have been implicated in asthmatic patients.
The findings highlight an important gene-environment interaction that elucidates the role of vitamin D and CD8+ and natural killer T cells in asthma exacerbation in a genome-wide gene-environment interaction study that has been replicated in an independent population. The results suggest the potential importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in subsets of high-risk asthmatic patients.
Gene-environment interaction; genome-wide association study; vitamin D; asthma exacerbation
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
A 900-KB inversion exists within a large region of conserved linkage disequilibrium (LD) on chromosome 17. CRHR1 is located within the inversion region and associated with inhaled corticosteroid response in asthma. We hypothesized that CRHR1 variants are in LD with the inversion, supporting a potential role for natural selection in the genetic response to corticosteroids. We genotyped 6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning chr17:40,410,565–42,372,240, including 4 SNPs defining inversion status. Similar allele frequencies and strong LD were noted between the inversion and a CRHR1 SNP previously associated with lung function response to inhaled corticosteroids. Each inversion-defining SNP was strongly associated with inhaled corticosteroid response in adult asthma (p-values 0.002–0.005). The CRHR1 response to inhaled corticosteroids may thus be explained by natural selection resulting from inversion status or by long-range LD with another gene. Additional pharmacogenetic investigations into to regions of chromosomal diversity, including copy number variation and inversions, are warranted.
CRHR1; tau haplotype; MAPT; inversion; asthma; corticosteroid; pharmacogenetics
Corticotropin - releasing hormone receptor 2 (CRHR2) participates in smooth muscle relaxation response and may influence acute airway bronchodilator response to short – acting β2 agonist treatment of asthma. We aim to assess associations between genetic variants of CRHR2 and acute bronchodilator response in asthma.
We investigated 28 single nucleotide polymorphisms in CRHR2 for associations with acute bronchodilator response to albuterol in 607 Caucasian asthmatic subjects recruited as part of the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). Replication was conducted in two Caucasian adult asthma cohorts – a cohort of 427 subjects enrolled in a completed clinical trial conducted by Sepracor Inc. (MA, USA) and a cohort of 152 subjects enrolled in the Clinical Trial of Low-Dose Theopylline and Montelukast (LODO) conducted by the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers.
Five variants were significantly associated with acute bronchodilator response in at least one cohort (p-value ≤ 0.05). Variant rs7793837 was associated in CAMP and LODO (p-value = 0.05 and 0.03, respectively) and haplotype blocks residing at the 5’ end of CRHR2 were associated with response in all three cohorts.
We report for the first time, at the gene level, replicated associations between CRHR2 and acute bronchodilator response. While no single variant was significantly associated in all three cohorts, the findings that variants at the 5’ end of CRHR2 are associated in each of three cohorts strongly suggest that the causative variants reside in this region and its genetic effect, although present, is likely to be weak.
Asthma; genetics; corticotrophin releasing hormone receptor 2; CRHR2; bronchodilator response; polymorphism; β2 adrenergic receptor agonist
Personalized health-care promises tailored health-care solutions to individual patients based on their genetic background and/or environmental exposure history. To date, disease prediction has been based on a few environmental factors and/or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), while complex diseases are usually affected by many genetic and environmental factors with each factor contributing a small portion to the outcome. We hypothesized that the use of random forests classifiers to select SNPs would result in an improved predictive model of asthma exacerbations. We tested this hypothesis in a population of childhood asthmatics.
In this study, using emergency room visits or hospitalizations as the definition of a severe asthma exacerbation, we first identified a list of top Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) SNPs ranked by Random Forests (RF) importance score for the CAMP (Childhood Asthma Management Program) population of 127 exacerbation cases and 290 non-exacerbation controls. We predict severe asthma exacerbations using the top 10 to 320 SNPs together with age, sex, pre-bronchodilator FEV1 percentage predicted, and treatment group.
Testing in an independent set of the CAMP population shows that severe asthma exacerbations can be predicted with an Area Under the Curve (AUC) = 0.66 with 160-320 SNPs in comparison to an AUC score of 0.57 with 10 SNPs. Using the clinical traits alone yielded AUC score of 0.54, suggesting the phenotype is affected by genetic as well as environmental factors.
Our study shows that a random forests algorithm can effectively extract and use the information contained in a small number of samples. Random forests, and other machine learning tools, can be used with GWAS studies to integrate large numbers of predictors simultaneously.
Rationale: Current understanding of the molecular regulation of lung development is limited and derives mostly from animal studies.
Objectives: To define global patterns of gene expression during human lung development.
Methods: Genome-wide expression profiling was used to measure the developing lung transcriptome in RNA samples derived from 38 normal human lung tissues at 53 to 154 days post conception. Principal component analysis was used to characterize global expression variation and to identify genes and bioontologic attributes contributing to these variations. Individual gene expression patterns were verified by quantitative reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction analysis.
Measurements and Main Results: Gene expression analysis identified attributes not previously associated with lung development, such as chemokine-immunologic processes. Lung characteristics attributes (e.g., surfactant function) were observed at an earlier-than-anticipated age. We defined a 3,223 gene developing lung characteristic subtranscriptome capable of describing a majority of the process. In gene expression space, the samples formed a time-contiguous trajectory with transition points correlating with histological stages and suggesting the existence of novel molecular substages. Induction of surfactant gene expression characterized a pseudoglandular “molecular phase” transition. Individual gene expression patterns were independently validated. We predicted the age of independent human lung transcriptome profiles with a median absolute error of 5 days, supporting the validity of the data and modeling approach.
Conclusions: This study extends our knowledge of key gene expression patterns and bioontologic attributes underlying early human lung developmental processes. The data also suggest the existence of molecular phases of lung development.
microarrays; surfactant; principal component analysis
Among asthmatics, bronchodilator response (BDR) to inhaled ß2- adrenergic agonists is variable, and the significance of a consistent response over time is unknown.
We assessed baseline clinical variables and determined the clinical outcomes associated with a consistently positive BDR over 4 years in children with mild-moderate persistent asthma.
In the 1,041 participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), subjects with a change in FEV1 of 12% or greater (and 200mLs) after inhaled ß2 agonist at each of their yearly follow-up visits (consistent BDR) were compared with those who did not have a consistent BDR.
We identified 52 children with consistent BDR over the 4-year trial. Multivariable logistic regression modeling demonstrated that baseline pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (OR=0.71, p<0.0001), log 10 IgE level (OR=1.97, p=0.002), and lack of treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (OR=0.31, p=0.009) were associated with a consistent BDR. Individuals who had a consistent BDR had more hospital visits (p=0.007), required more prednisone bursts (p=0.0007), had increased nocturnal awakenings due to asthma (p<0.0001), and missed more days of school (p=0.03) than non-responders during the 4-year follow-up.
We have identified predictors of consistent BDR and determined that this phenotype is associated with poor clinical outcomes.
asthma; consistent bronchodilator response; outcomes
Leukotrienes are now established contributors to the inflammatory process in asthma and leukotriene modifiers are mainstays in the therapy of asthma. This review focuses on published association studies implicating the role of leukotriene pathway genes in asthma pathogenesis and treatment response, specifically focusing on those genetic variants associated with asthma affection status, the development of aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease, and pharmacogenetic response. While published studies have been limited by small sample sizes and lack of independent replication, multiple loci within multiple leukotriene pathway genes have now been associated in more than one study related to asthma or asthma treatment response. Those specific variants include two variants in ALOX5 that are both associated with response to 5-LO inhibition and to leukotriene receptor antagonists, variants in the two established cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonists, CYSLTR1 and CYSLTR2 that are both associated with asthma susceptibility in at least two independent populations, and a LTC4S promoter polymorphism that has been associated with asthma affection status and with asthma exacerbated respiratory disease. Desite these successes, genetic investigations into this pathway remain in their formative stages. Future studies aimed at providing a broader scope of investigation through increased sample sizes and through genome-wide approaches are needed.
Leukotrienes; SNP; asthma, 5-lipoxygenase; zileuton; montelukast; pharmacogenetics
To evaluate phenotypic and genetic variables associated with a poor long-term response to inhaled corticosteroid therapy for asthma, based independently on lung function changes or asthma exacerbations.
Materials & methods
We tested 17 phenotypic variables and polymorphisms in FCER2 and CRHR1 in 311 children (aged 5–12 years) randomized to a 4-year course of inhaled corticosteroid during the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP).
Predictors of recurrent asthma exacerbations are distinct from predictors of poor lung function response. A history of prior asthma exacerbations, younger age and a higher IgE level (p < 0.05) are associated with recurrent exacerbations. By contrast, lower bronchodilator response to albuterol and the minor alleles of RS242941 in CRHR1 and T2206C in FCER2 (p < 0.05) are associated with poor lung function response. Poor lung function response does not increase the risk of exacerbations and vice versa (p = 0.72).
Genetic and phenotypic predictors of a poor long-term response to inhaled corticosteroids differ markedly depending on definition of outcome (based on exacerbations vs lung function). These findings are important in comparing outcomes of clinical trials and in designing future pharmacogenetic studies.
asthma; corticosteroid; exacerbation; lung function; pharmacogenetics
Purpose of review
Patient response to the asthma drug classes, bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids and leukotriene modifiers, are characterized by a large degree of heterogeneity, which is attributable in part to genetic variation. Herein, we review and update the pharmacogenetics and pharmaogenomics of common asthma drugs.
Early studies suggest that bronchodilator reversibility and asthma worsening in patients on continuous short-acting and long-acting β-agonists are related to the Gly16Arg genotype for the ADRB2. More recent studies including genome-wide association studies implicate variants in other genes contribute to bronchodilator response heterogeneity and fail to replicate asthma worsening associated with continuous β-agonist use. Genetic determinants of the safety of long-acting β-agonist require further study. Variants in CRHR1, TBX21, and FCER2 contribute to variability in response for lung function, airways responsiveness, and exacerbations in patients taking inhaled corticosteroids. Variants in ALOX5, LTA4H, LTC4S, ABCC1, CYSLTR2, and SLCO2B1 contribute to variability in response to leukotriene modifiers.
Identification of novel variants that contribute to response heterogeneity supports future studies of single nucleotide polymorphism discovery and include gene expression and genome-wide association studies. Statistical models that predict the genomics of response to asthma drugs will complement single nucleotide polymorphism discovery in moving toward personalized medicine.
asthma; genes; personalized medicine; polymorphisms; response heterogeneity
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
Rationale: Airway responsiveness is a prognostic marker for asthma symptoms in later life.
Objectives: To evaluate characteristics responsible for persistence of airway responsiveness in children with asthma.
Methods: A total of 1,041 children, initially aged 5–12 years, with mild to moderate persistent asthma enrolled in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) were studied prospectively for 8.6 ± 1.8 years with methacholine challenges yearly.
Measurements and Main Results: Least squares geometric mean models were fit to determine effects of sex and age on airway responsiveness (provocative concentration producing 20% decrease in FEV1 [PC20]). Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to determine factors at baseline and over time, which were associated with PC20 at end of follow-up. A total of 7,748 methacholine challenges were analyzed. PC20 increased with age, with boys having greater increase after age 11 years than girls (P < 0.001). The divergence coincided with the mean age for Tanner stage 2. Postpubertal girls had greater airway responsiveness, even after adjustment for FEV1 and other potential confounders. Although multivariable regression analyses noted a variety of factors that influenced airway responsivness in both sexes, a history of hay fever (β= −0.30, P = 0.005), respiratory allergy (β= −0.32, P = 0.006), or recent inhaled corticosteroid usage (β= −0.18, P = 0.02) were associated with decrements in final log PC20 only in girls.
Conclusions: Airway responsiveness (PC20) is more severe in the postpubertal female with asthma than in males. Although there are factors associated with airway responsiveness in both males and females, sex-specific factors may contribute to new insights into asthma pathogenesis.
methacholine; PC20; FEV1; bronchoconstriction
Maternal and perinatal environmental exposures, as well as inherited factors, may influence neonatal immune responses.
To determine relations of maternal and perinatal exposures to antigen-specific cord blood lymphoproliferative responses.
In 427 newborns from a Boston pregnancy/birth cohort, lymphoproliferative responses in cord blood mononuclear cells to stimulation with cockroach (Bla g 2), house dust mite (Der f 1), ovalbumin, and mitogen phytohemagglutinin were measured as stimulation index (SI). We used the Wilcoxon rank sum and χ2 tests to evaluate predictors of ovalbumin SI as a continuous ranked or dichotomous outcome. We used t test and Spearman correlation for univariate testing and linear regression to evaluate predictors of natural log-transformed Bla g 2, Der f 1, and phytohemagglutinin SI. Logistic multivariate regression was applied to evaluate predictors of Bla g 2, Der f 1, and phytohemagglutinin SI dichotomized at 2 or at the median for phytohemagglutinin.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy, inadequate or excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy, neonate black race/ethnicity (compared with white), and Apgar score less than 8 were each independently associated with increased cord blood mononuclear cell proliferative responses to stimulation with Bla g 2 and/or Der f 1. Maternal history of asthma was associated only with increased lymphoproliferative response to ovalbumin stimulation.
Distinct fetal and perinatal exposures and black race/ethnicity may be associated with increased cord blood lymphoproliferative responses. The implications of these findings for future development of allergy or asthma are, as yet, unknown.
Background. N-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been hypothesized to have opposing influences on neonatal immune responses that might influence the risk of allergy or asthma. However, both n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and n-6 arachidonic acid (AA) are required for normal fetal development.
Objective. We evaluated whether cord blood fatty acid levels were related to neonatal immune responses and whether n-3 and n-6 PUFA responses differed.
Methods. We examined the relation of cord blood plasma n-3 and n-6 PUFAs (n = 192) to antigen- and mitogen-stimulated cord blood lymphocyte proliferation (n = 191) and cytokine (IL-13 and IFN-γ; n = 167) secretion in a US birth cohort.
Results. Higher levels of n-6 linoleic acid were correlated with higher IL-13 levels in response to Bla g 2 (cockroach, P = .009) and Der f 1 (dust mite, P = .02). Higher n-3 EPA and n-6 AA levels were each correlated with reduced lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ levels in response to Bla g 2 and Der f 1 stimulation. Controlling for potential confounders, EPA and AA had similar independent effects on reduced allergen-stimulated IFN-γ levels. If neonates had either EPA or AA levels in the highest quartile, their Der f 1 IFN-γ levels were 90% lower (P = .0001) than those with both EPA and AA levels in the lowest 3 quartiles. Reduced AA/EPA ratio was associated with reduced allergen-stimulated IFN-γ level.
Conclusion. Increased levels of fetal n-3 EPA and n-6 AA might have similar effects on attenuation of cord blood lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ secretion.
Clinical implications. The implications of these findings for
Asthma; child; cord blood; cytokine; fatty acids; lymphocyte proliferation; AA: Arachidonic acid; BMI: Body mass index; CBMC: Cord blood mononuclear cell; CI: Confidence interval; DHA: Docosohexaenoic acid; EPA: Eicosapentaenoic acid; FA: Fatty acid; LA: Linoleic acid; NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit; OVA: Ovalbumin; PG: Prostaglandin; PUFA: Polyunsaturated fatty acid; SI: Stimulation index
Little is known about the relation between cytokine profile at birth and acute lower respiratory illnesses in the first year of life. The purpose of this work was to examine the relation between cytokine secretions by cord blood mononuclear cells and acute lower respiratory illness in a birth cohort of 297 children.
Cord blood mononuclear cells were isolated, and secretion of interferon-γ, interleukin-13, interleukin-10, and tumor necrosis factor-α at baseline and in response to allergens (Blatella germanica 2 and Dermatophagoides farinae 1) and mitogen (phytohemagglutinin) were quantified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Acute lower respiratory illness was defined as a parental report of a diagnosis of bronchiolitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, and/or croup by a health care professional in the first year of life. Differences in the levels of cord blood cytokines between children with and without acute lower respiratory illness were examined using 2-sample Wilcoxon tests. Logistic regression models were used to examine the relation between various categories of cord blood cytokines and acute lower respiratory illness.
Median levels of interferon-γ secreted by cord blood mononuclear cells in response to Blatella germanica 2 and Dermatophagoides farinae 1 were higher among children without acute lower respiratory illness as compared with children with acute lower respiratory illness. After adjustment for other covariates, the odds of acute lower respiratory illness was reduced among children in the top category (at or more than the median of detectable values) of interferon-γ level, significantly so in response to Blatella germanica 2.
In a cohort of children from the general population, we found that upregulated interferon-γ secretion at birth is associated with reduced risk of acute lower respiratory illness in the first year of life.
lower respiratory illnesses; cytokines; neonates; IFN-γ
Low intakes of dietary antioxidants may contribute to increases in asthma and allergy.
We investigated the association of maternal total intakes (foods + supplements) of 10 antioxidant nutrients during pregnancy with wheezing and eczema in 2-y-old children.
Subjects were 1290 mother-child pairs in an ongoing cohort study. Maternal dietary and supplement intakes were assessed by using a validated food-frequency questionnaire administered in the first and second trimesters. Antioxidant nutrient intakes were calculated, and the mean for each nutrient was considered to be the exposure during pregnancy. The outcomes of interest were any wheezing by the child during either the first or second year of life, recurrent wheezing in both years, and eczema in either the first or second year.
No association was observed between maternal total intake of any antioxidant nutrient and eczema. In multivariate logistic regression models, the highest quartile compared with the lowest quartile of maternal total intakes of vitamin E [odds ratio (OR): 0.70; 95% CI: 0.48, 1.03] and zinc (OR: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.88) was inversely associated with any wheezing at 2 y of age (P for trend = 0.06 and 0.01 over quartiles of intake for vitamin E and zinc, respectively). Similar results were obtained for recurrent wheezing at 2 y of age with vitamin E (OR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.90) and zinc (OR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.87) (P for trend = 0.05 and 0.06 over quartiles of intake for vitamin E and zinc, respectively).
Our results suggest that higher maternal total intakes of antioxidants during pregnancy may decrease the risks for wheezing illnesses in early childhood.
Asthma; diet; antioxidants; eczema; childhood wheezing
Rationale: Interpatient variability in montelukast response may be related to variation in leukotriene pathway candidate genes.
Objective: To determine associations between polymorphisms in leukotriene pathway candidate genes with outcomes in patients with asthma receiving montelukast for 6 mo who participated in a clinical trial.
Methods: Polymorphisms were typed using Sequenom matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass array spectrometry and published methods; haplotypes were imputed using single nucleotide polymorphism–expectation maximization (SNP-EM). Analysis of variance and logistic regression models were used to test for changes in outcomes by genotype. In addition, χ2 and likelihood ratio tests were used to test for differences between groups. Case-control comparisons were analyzed using the SNP-EM Omnibus likelihood ratio test.
Measurements: Outcomes were asthma exacerbation rate and changes in FEV1 compared with baseline.
Results: DNA was collected from 252 participants: 69% were white, 26% were African American. Twenty-eight SNPs in the ALOX5, LTA4H, LTC4S, MRP1, and cysLT1R genes, and an ALOX5 repeat polymorphism were successfully typed. There were racial disparities in allele frequencies in 17 SNPs and in the repeat polymorphism. Association analyses were performed in 61 whites. Associations were found between genotypes of SNPs in the ALOX5 (rs2115819) and MRP1 (rs119774) genes and changes in FEV1 (p < 0.05), and between two SNPs in LTC4S (rs730012) and in LTA4H (rs2660845) genes for exacerbation rates. Mutant ALOX5 repeat polymorphism was associated with decreased exacerbation rates. There was strong linkage disequilibrium between ALOX5 SNPs. Associations between ALOX5 haplotypes and risk of exacerbations were found.
Conclusions: Genetic variation in leukotriene pathway candidate genes contributes to variability in montelukast response.
antiinflammatory; montelukast; pharmacodynamic; pharmacogenetic
Identifying genetic determinants for lung function is important in providing insight into the pathophysiology of asthma. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 is a transcription factor latent in the cytoplasm; the gene (STAT3) is activated by a wide range of cytokines, and may play a role in lung development and asthma pathogenesis.
We genotyped six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the STAT3 gene in a cohort of 401 Caucasian adult asthmatics. The associations between each SNP and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), as a percent of predicted, at the baseline exam were tested using multiple linear regression models. Longitudinal analyses involving repeated measures of FEV1 were conducted with mixed linear models. Haplotype analyses were conducted using imputed haplotypes. We completed a second association study by genotyping the same six polymorphisms in a cohort of 652 Caucasian children with asthma.
We found that three polymorphisms were significantly associated with baseline FEV1: homozygotes for the minor alleles of each polymorphism had lower FEV1 than homozygotes for the major alleles. Moreover, these associations persisted when we performed an analysis on repeated measures of FEV1 over 8 weeks. A haplotypic analysis based on the six polymorphisms indicated that two haplotypes were associated with baseline FEV1. Among the childhood asthmatics, one polymorphism was associated with both baseline FEV1 and the repeated measures of FEV1 over 4 years.
Our results indicate that genetic variants in STAT3, independent of asthma treatment, are determinants of FEV1 in both adults and children with asthma, and suggest that STAT3 may participate in inflammatory pathways that have an impact on level of lung function.
The hygiene hypothesis states that childhood asthma develops as a result of decreased exposure to infectious agents during infancy and early childhood. This results in the persistence of the neonatal T helper lymphocyte 2 immunophenotype, thereby predisposing the child to atopic disease. While multiple studies support the hygiene hypothesis in asthma ontogeny, the evidence remains inconclusive; multiple other environmental exposures in early childhood also alter predisposition to asthma. Moreover, the current paradigm for asthma development extends far beyond simple childhood environmental exposures to include fetal development, genetic predisposition, and interactions of the developmental state and genetics with the environment.
asthma; child; fetal programming; gene by environment; infection
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.
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.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) triggers dendritic cell–mediated T helper (Th) 2 inflammatory responses. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3806933, in the promoter region of the TSLP gene creates a binding site for the transcription factor activating protein (AP)–1. The variant enhances AP-1 binding to the regulatory element, and increases the promoter–reporter activity of TSLP in response to polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly[I:C]) stimulation in normal human bronchial epithelium (NHBE). We investigated whether polymorphisms including the SNP rs3806933 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of bronchial asthma. We selected three representative (i.e., Tag) SNPs and conducted association studies of the TSLP gene, using two independent populations (639 patients with childhood atopic asthma and 838 control subjects, and 641 patients with adult asthma and 376 control subjects, respectively). We further examined the effects of corticosteroids and a long-acting β2-agonist (salmeterol) on the expression levels of the TSLP gene in response to poly(I:C) in NHBE. We found that the promoter polymorphisms rs3806933 and rs2289276 were significantly associated with disease susceptibility in both childhood atopic and adult asthma. The functional SNP rs3806933 was associated with asthma (meta-analysis, P = 0.000056; odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.47). A genotype of rs2289278 was correlated with pulmonary function. Moreover, the induction of TSLP mRNA and protein expression induced by poly(I:C) in NHBE was synergistically impaired by a corticosteroid and salmeterol. TSLP variants are significantly associated with bronchial asthma and pulmonary function. Thus, TSLP may serve as a therapeutic target molecule for combination therapy.
asthma; TSLP; bronchial epithelial cells; combination therapy; genetic polymorphisms
Little is known about the role of most asthma susceptibility genes during human lung development. Genetic determinants for normal lung development are not only important early in life, but also for later lung function.
To investigate the role of expression patterns of well-defined asthma susceptibility genes during human and murine lung development. We hypothesized that genes influencing normal airways development would be over-represented by genes associated with asthma.
Asthma genes were first identified via comprehensive search of the current literature. Next, we analyzed their expression patterns in the developing human lung during the pseudoglandular (gestational age, 7-16 weeks) and canalicular (17-26 weeks) stages of development, and in the complete developing lung time series of 3 mouse strains: A/J, SW, C57BL6.
In total, 96 genes with association to asthma in at least two human populations were identified in the literature. Overall, there was no significant over-representation of the asthma genes among genes differentially expressed during lung development, although trends were seen in the human (Odds ratio, OR 1.22, confidence interval, CI 0.90-1.62) and C57BL6 mouse (OR 1.41, CI 0.92-2.11) data. However, differential expression of some asthma genes was consistent in both developing human and murine lung, e.g. NOD1, EDN1, CCL5, RORA and HLA-G. Among the asthma genes identified in genome wide association studies, ROBO1, RORA, HLA-DQB1, IL2RB and PDE10A were differentially expressed during human lung development.
Our data provide insight about the role of asthma susceptibility genes during lung development and suggest common mechanisms underlying lung morphogenesis and pathogenesis of respiratory diseases.
Asthma; Development; Expression; Genetics; Lung