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2.  Stress and Bronchodilator Response in Children with Asthma 
Rationale: Stress is associated with asthma morbidity in Puerto Ricans (PRs), who have reduced bronchodilator response (BDR).
Objectives: To examine whether stress and/or a gene regulating anxiety (ADCYAP1R1) is associated with BDR in PR and non-PR children with asthma.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of stress and BDR (percent change in FEV1 after BD) in 234 PRs ages 9–14 years with asthma. We assessed child stress using the Checklist of Children’s Distress Symptoms, and maternal stress using the Perceived Stress Scale. Replication analyses were conducted in two cohorts. Polymorphisms in ADCYAP1R1 were genotyped in our study and six replication studies. Multivariable models of stress and BDR were adjusted for age, sex, income, environmental tobacco smoke, and use of inhaled corticosteroids.
Measurements and Main Results: High child stress was associated with reduced BDR in three cohorts. PR children who were highly stressed (upper quartile, Checklist of Children’s Distress Symptoms) and whose mothers had high stress (upper quartile, Perceived Stress Scale) had a BDR that was 10.2% (95% confidence interval, 6.1–14.2%) lower than children who had neither high stress nor a highly stressed mother. A polymorphism in ADCYAP1R1 (rs34548976) was associated with reduced BDR. This single-nucleotide polymorphism is associated with reduced expression of the gene for the β2-adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) in CD4+ lymphocytes of subjects with asthma, and it affects brain connectivity of the amygdala and the insula (a biomarker of anxiety).
Conclusions: High child stress and an ADCYAP1R1 single-nucleotide polymorphism are associated with reduced BDR in children with asthma. This is likely caused by down-regulation of ADRB2 in highly stressed children.
PMCID: PMC4511425  PMID: 25918834
asthma; Puerto Ricans; bronchodilator response; stress
3.  Genome-Wide Expression Profiles Identify Potential Targets for Gene by Environment Interactions in Asthma Severity 
Gene by environment interaction (G × E) studies utilizing GWAS data are often underpowered after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Differential gene expression, in response to the exposure of interest, may capture the most biologically relevant genes at the genome-wide level.
We used differential genome-wide expression profiles from the Home Allergens and Asthma Birth cohort in response to Der f 1 allergen (sensitized vs. non-sensitized) to inform a G × E study of dust mite exposure and asthma severity. Polymorphisms in differentially expressed genes were identified in GWAS data from CAMP, a clinical trial in childhood asthmatics. Home dust mite allergen (< or ≥ 10µg/g dust) was assessed at baseline, and (≥ 1) severe asthma exacerbation (emergency room (ER) visit or hospitalization for asthma in the first trial year) served as the disease severity outcome. The Genetics of Asthma in Costa Rica (GACRS) study, and a Puerto Rico/Connecticut asthma cohortwere used for replication.
IL-9, IL-5 and PRG2 expression was up-regulated in Der f 1 stimulated PBMCs from dust mite sensitized individuals (adj. p value <0.04). IL-9 polymorphisms (rs11741137, rs2069885, rs1859430) showed evidence for interaction with dust mite in CAMP (p=0.02 to 0.03), with replication in GACRS (p=0.04). Subjects with the dominant genotype for these IL-9 polymorphisms were more likely to report a severe asthma exacerbation if exposed to elevated dust mite.
Genome-wide differential gene expression in response to dust mite allergen identified IL-9, a biologically plausible gene target that may interact with environmental dust mite to increase severe asthma exacerbations in children.
PMCID: PMC4763940  PMID: 25913104
4.  A genome-wide survey of CD4+ lymphocyte regulatory genetic variants identifies novel asthma genes 
Genome-wide association studies have yet to identify the majority of genetic variants involved in asthma. We hypothesized that expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping can identify novel asthma genes by enabling prioritization of putative functional variants for association testing.
We evaluated 6,706 cis-acting expression-associated variants (eSNP) identified through a genome-wide eQTL survey of CD4+ lymphocytes for association with asthma.
eSNP were tested for association with asthma in 359 asthma cases and 846 controls from the Childhood Asthma Management Program, with verification using family-based testing. Significant associations were tested for replication in 579 parent-child trios with asthma from Costa Rica. Further functional validation was performed by Formaldehyde Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements (FAIRE)-qPCR and Chromatin-Immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR in lung derived epithelial cell lines (Beas-2B and A549) and Jurkat cells, a leukemia cell line derived from T lymphocytes.
Cis-acting eSNP demonstrated associations with asthma in both cohorts. We confirmed the previously-reported association of ORMDL3/GSDMB variants with asthma (combined p=2.9 × 108). Reproducible associations were also observed for eSNP in three additional genes: FADS2 (p=0.002), NAGA (p=0.0002), and F13A1 (p=0.0001). We subsequently demonstrated that FADS2 mRNA is increased in CD4+ lymphocytes in asthmatics, and that the associated eSNPs reside within DNA segments with histone modifications that denote open chromatin status and confer enhancer activity.
Our results demonstrate the utility of eQTL mapping in the identification of novel asthma genes, and provide evidence for the importance of FADS2, NAGA, and F13A1 in the pathogenesis of asthma.
PMCID: PMC4253878  PMID: 24934276
Asthma; CD4+; lymphocytes; regulatory variants; Expression Quantitative Trait Locus (eQTL); Haplotype; Integrative Genomics
5.  Inflammatory Markers of Lung Disease in Adult Patients With Cystic Fibrosis 
Pediatric pulmonology  2007;42(3):256-262.
Progressive pulmonary disease associated with chronic bacterial infection and inflammation is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Identifying markers of inflammation that correlate with lung injury may be useful in monitoring disease progression and response to therapy. We hypothesized that levels of serum biomarkers would correlate with clinical course of CF as defined by pulmonary function testing (FEV1).
To determine whether biomarkers of systemic inflammation correlate with lung function in adults with CF.
Retrospective cross-sectional analysis of 63 individuals ≥30 years of age diagnosed with CF in childhood and followed at Children’s Hospital, Boston. We collected data on demographics, CFTR genotype, percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), C-reactive protein (CRP), serum IgE nd IgG, alpha1-antitrypsin, total white blood cell and neutrophil counts, and percent neutrophils. We used univariate analyses and multivariate linear regression modeling to examine whether markers of systemic inflammation varied with FEV1 (% predicted).
In two-covariate models including CRP and one other marker, CRP (P < 0.001) and IgG (P = 0.02) were significantly associated with FEV1 (% predicted). In the CRP and IgG model, percent predicted FEV1 decreased by 4.91% (P < 0.0001) for each twofold increase in CRP and by 1.56% (P = 0.02) for each 100 mg/dl increase in IgG. Results were unchanged by adjustment for number of DF 508 CFTR alleles. There was no association between any other marker and FEV1 (% predicted) after adjusting for CRP.
Severity of lung disease in long surviving adult CF patients is correlated with CRP and IgG levels. Our findings relating CRP and IgG levels and lung function provide a foundation for subsequent longitudinal studies and consideration of novel disease mechanisms and outcome measurements.
PMCID: PMC4469989  PMID: 17245735
cystic fibrosis; biological markers; airway inflammation; c-reactive protein in cystic fibrosis; lung function; IgG in cystic fibrosis
6.  A genome-wide association study of bronchodilator response in asthmatics 
The pharmacogenomics journal  2013;14(1):41-47.
Reversibility of airway obstruction in response to β2-agonists is highly variable among asthmatics, which is partially attributed to genetic factors. In a genome-wide association study of acute bronchodilator response (BDR) to inhaled albuterol, 534,290 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were tested in 403 white trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program using five statistical models to determine the most robust genetic associations. The primary replication phase included 1397 polymorphisms in three asthma trials (pooled n=764). The second replication phase tested 13 SNPs in three additional asthma populations (n=241, n=215, and n=592). An intergenic SNP on chromosome 10, rs11252394, proximal to several excellent biological candidates, significantly replicated (p=1.98×10−7) in the primary replication trials. An intronic SNP (rs6988229) in the collagen (COL22A1) locus also provided strong replication signals (p=8.51×10−6). This study applied a robust approach for testing the genetic basis of BDR and identified novel loci associated with this drug response in asthmatics.
PMCID: PMC3706515  PMID: 23508266
pharmacogenetics; asthma; bronchodilator response; genome-wide association study; albuterol
7.  Genome-wide association analysis of circulating vitamin D levels in children with asthma 
Human genetics  2012;131(9):1495-1505.
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more apparent in many populations. Genetic factors may play a role in the maintenance of vitamin D levels. The objective of this study was to perform a genome-wide analysis (GWAS) of vitamin D levels, including replication of prior GWAS results. We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels in serum collected at the time of enrollment and at year 4 in 572 Caucasian children with asthma, who were part of a multi-center clinical trial, the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Replication was performed in a second cohort of 592 asthmatics from Costa Rica and a third cohort of 516 Puerto Rican asthmatics. In addition, we attempted replication of three SNPs that were previously identified in a large GWAS of Caucasian individuals. The setting included data from a clinical trial of childhood asthmatics and two cohorts of asthmatics recruited for genetic studies of asthma. The main outcome measure was circulating 25(OH)D levels. The 25(OH)D levels at the two time-points were only modestly correlated with each other (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.33) in the CAMP population. We identified SNPs that were nominally associated with 25(OH)D levels at two time-points in CAMP, and replicated four SNPs in the Costa Rican cohort: rs11002969, rs163221, rs1678849, and rs4864976. However, these SNPs were not significantly associated with 25(OH)D levels in a third population of Puerto Rican asthmatics. We were able to replicate the SNP with the strongest effect, previously reported in a large GWAS: rs2282679 (GC), and we were able to replicate another SNP, rs10741657 (CYP2R1), to a lesser degree. We were able to replicate two of three prior significant findings in a GWAS of 25(OH)D levels. Other SNPs may be additionally associated with 25(OH)D levels in certain populations.
PMCID: PMC3648789  PMID: 22673963
8.  IL1B Polymorphisms Modulate Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease 
Pediatric pulmonology  2009;44(6):580-593.
Rationale: Variability in pulmonary disease severity is found in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) who have identical mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. We hypothesized that one factor accounting for heterogeneity in pulmonary disease severity is variation in the family of genes affecting the biology of interleukin-1 (IL-1), which impacts acquisition and maintenance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in animal models of chronic infection. Methods: We genotyped 58 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the IL-1 gene cluster in 808 CF subjects from the University of North Carolina and Case Western Reserve University (UNC/CWRU) joint cohort. All were homozygous for ΔF508, and categories of “severe” (cases) or “mild” (control subjects) lung disease were defined by the lowest or highest quartile of forced expired volume (FEV1) for age in the CF population. After adjustment for age and gender, genotypic data were tested for association with lung disease severity. Odds ratios (ORs) comparing severe versus mild CF were also calculated for each genotype (with the homozygote major allele as the reference group) for all 58 SNPs. From these analyses, nine SNPs with a moderate effect size, OR ≤ 0.5or > 1.5, were selected for further testing. To replicate the case-control study results, we genotyped the same nine SNPs in a second population of CF parent-offspring trios (recruited from Children’s Hospital Boston), in which the offspring had similar pulmonary phenotypes. For the trio analysis, both family-based and population-based associations were performed. Results: SNPs rs1143634 and rs1143639 in the IL1B gene demonstrated a consistent association with lung disease severity categories (P < 0.10) and longitudinal analysis of lung disease severity (P < 0.10) in CF in both the case-control and family-based studies. In females, there was a consistent association (false discovery rate adjusted joint P-value < 0.06 for both SNPs) in both the analysis of lung disease severity in the UNC/CWRU cohort and the family-based analysis of affection status. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that IL1β is a clinically relevant modulator of CF lung disease.
PMCID: PMC3716579  PMID: 19431193
gene modifiers; cystic fibrosis; CFTR; IL-1 gene family
9.  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
10.  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
11.  A Genome Wide Association Study of Plasma Total IgE Concentration in the Framingham Heart Study 
Atopy and plasma IgE concentration are genetically complex traits, and the specific genetic risk factors that lead to IgE dysregulation and clinical atopy are an area of active investigation.
To ascertain the genetic risk factors which lead to IgE dysregulation.
A genome wide association study (GWAS) was performed in 6,819 participants from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS). Seventy of the top SNPs were selected based on p-values and linkage disequilibrium among neighboring SNPs and evaluated in a meta-analysis with five independent populations from the KORA, B58C, and CAMP cohorts.
Thirteen SNPs located in the region of three genes, FCER1A, STAT6, and IL-13, were found to have genome-wide significance in the FHS GWAS. The most significant SNPs from the three regions were rs2251746 (FCER1A, p-value 2.11×10-12), rs1059513 (STAT6, p-value 2.87×10-08), and rs1295686 (IL-13, p-value 3.55×10-08). Four additional gene regions - HLA-G, HLA-DQA2, HLA-A, and DARC - reached genome-wide statistical significance in meta-analysis combining FHS and replication cohorts, although the DARC association did not appear independent of SNPs in the nearby FCER1A gene.
This GWAS of the FHS has identified genetic loci in HLA genes that may have a role in the pathogenesis of IgE dysregulation and atopy. It also confirmed the association of known susceptibility loci, FCER1A, STAT6, and IL-13, for the dysregulation of total IgE.
PMCID: PMC3293994  PMID: 22075330
total IgE; atopy; asthma; GWAS
12.  Genome-wide association study reveals class I MHC–restricted T cell–associated molecule gene (CRTAM) variants interact with vitamin D levels to affect asthma exacerbations 
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.
PMCID: PMC3360942  PMID: 22051697
Gene-environment interaction; genome-wide association study; vitamin D; asthma exacerbation
13.  Meta-analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies of Asthma In Ethnically Diverse North American Populations 
Torgerson, Dara G. | Ampleford, Elizabeth J. | Chiu, Grace Y. | Gauderman, W. James | Gignoux, Christopher R. | Graves, Penelope E. | Himes, Blanca E. | Levin, Albert M. | Mathias, Rasika A. | Hancock, Dana B. | Baurley, James W. | Eng, Celeste | Stern, Debra A. | Celedón, Juan C. | Rafaels, Nicholas | Capurso, Daniel | Conti, David V. | Roth, Lindsey A. | Soto-Quiros, Manuel | Togias, Alkis | Li, Xingnan | Myers, Rachel A. | Romieu, Isabelle | Van Den Berg, David J. | Hu, Donglei | Hansel, Nadia N. | Hernandez, Ryan D. | Israel, Elliott | Salam, Muhammad T. | Galanter, Joshua | Avila, Pedro C. | Avila, Lydiana | Rodriquez-Santana, Jose R. | Chapela, Rocio | Rodriguez-Cintron, William | Diette, Gregory B. | Adkinson, N. Franklin | Abel, Rebekah A. | Ross, Kevin D. | Shi, Min | Faruque, Mezbah U. | Dunston, Georgia M. | Watson, Harold R. | Mantese, Vito J. | Ezurum, Serpil C. | Liang, Liming | Ruczinski, Ingo | Ford, Jean G. | Huntsman, Scott | Chung, Kian Fan | Vora, Hita | Li, Xia | Calhoun, William J. | Castro, Mario | Sienra-Monge, Juan J. | del Rio-Navarro, Blanca | Deichmann, Klaus A. | Heinzmann, Andrea | Wenzel, Sally E. | Busse, William W. | Gern, James E. | Lemanske, Robert F. | Beaty, Terri H. | Bleecker, Eugene R. | Raby, Benjamin A. | Meyers, Deborah A. | London, Stephanie J. | Gilliland, Frank D. | Burchard, Esteban G. | Martinez, Fernando D. | Weiss, Scott T. | Williams, L. Keoki | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Ober, Carole | Nicolae, Dan L.
Nature genetics  2011;43(9):887-892.
Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma in 5,416 asthma cases representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans, and Latinos, and replicated five regions among the most significant signals in 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, and near the IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33, genes, but we report for the first time that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a novel association with asthma in the PYHIN1, gene that was specific to individuals of African descent (p=3.9×10−9). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3445408  PMID: 21804549
14.  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
15.  In Utero Smoke Exposure and Impaired Response to Inhaled Corticosteroids in Children with Asthma 
Few studies have examined the effects of in utero smoke exposure (IUS) on lung function in children with asthma, and there are no published data on the impact of IUS on treatment outcomes in asthmatic children.
To explore whether IUS exposure is associated with increased airway responsiveness among children with asthma, and whether IUS modifies the response to treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
To assess the impact of parent-reported IUS exposure on airway responsiveness in childhood asthma we performed a repeated-measures analysis of methacholine PC20 data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), a four-year, multicenter, randomized double masked placebo controlled trial of 1041 children ages 5–12 comparing the long term efficacy of ICS with mast cell stabilizing agents or placebo.
Although improvement was seen in both groups, asthmatic children with IUS exposure had on average 26% less of an improvement in airway responsiveness over time compared to unexposed children (p=.01). Moreover, while children who were not exposed to IUS who received budesonide experienced substantial improvement in PC20 compared to untreated children (1.25 fold-increase, 95% CI 1.03, 1.50, p=.02) the beneficial effects of budesonide were attenuated among children with a history of IUS exposure (1.04 fold-increase, 95% CI 0.65, 1.68, p=.88).
IUS reduces age-related improvements in airway responsiveness among asthmatic children. Moreover, IUS appears to blunt the beneficial effects of ICS use on airways responsiveness. These results emphasize the importance of preventing this exposure through smoking cessation counseling efforts with pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC2937829  PMID: 20673983
asthma; in utero smoke exposure; airway responsiveness; inhaled corticosteroids
16.  A Role for Wnt Signaling Genes in the Pathogenesis of Impaired Lung Function in Asthma 
Rationale: Animal models demonstrate that aberrant gene expression in utero can result in abnormal pulmonary phenotypes.
Objectives: We sought to identify genes that are differentially expressed during in utero airway development and test the hypothesis that variants in these genes influence lung function in patients with asthma.
Methods: Stage 1 (Gene Expression): Differential gene expression analysis across the pseudoglandular (n = 27) and canalicular (n = 9) stages of human lung development was performed using regularized t tests with multiple comparison adjustments. Stage 2 (Genetic Association): Genetic association analyses of lung function (FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC) for variants in five differentially expressed genes were conducted in 403 parent-child trios from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). Associations were replicated in 583 parent-child trios from the Genetics of Asthma in Costa Rica study.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,776 differentially expressed genes between the pseudoglandular (gestational age: 7–16 wk) and the canalicular (gestational age: 17–26 wk) stages, we selected 5 genes in the Wnt pathway for association testing. Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms in three genes demonstrated association with lung function in CAMP (P < 0.05), and associations for two of these genes were replicated in the Costa Ricans: Wnt1-inducible signaling pathway protein 1 with FEV1 (combined P = 0.0005) and FVC (combined P = 0.0004), and Wnt inhibitory factor 1 with FVC (combined P = 0.003) and FEV1/FVC (combined P = 0.003).
Conclusions: Wnt signaling genes are associated with impaired lung function in two childhood asthma cohorts. Furthermore, gene expression profiling of human fetal lung development can be used to identify genes implicated in the pathogenesis of lung function impairment in individuals with asthma.
PMCID: PMC2822972  PMID: 19926868
asthma; lung development; lung function; genetic variation; gene expression
17.  TSLP Polymorphisms are Associated with Asthma in a Sex-Specific Fashion 
Allergy  2010;65(12):1566-1575.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) have been associated with IgE (in girls) and asthma (in general). We sought to determine whether TSLP SNPs are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
We conducted regular and sex-stratified analyses of association between SNPs in TSLP and asthma in families of asthmatic children in Costa Rica. Significant findings were replicated in white and African-American participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program, in African Americans in the Genomic Research on Asthma in the African Diaspora study, in whites and Hispanics in the Children’s Health Study, and in whites in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS).
Main Results
Two SNPs in TSLP (rs1837253 and rs2289276) were significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in combined analyses of all cohorts (p values of 2×10−5 and 1×10−5, respectively). In a sex-stratified analysis, the T allele of rs1837253 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in males only (p= 3×10−6). Alternately, the T allele of rs2289276 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in females only (p= 2×10−4). Findings for rs2289276 were consistent in all cohorts except the FHS.
TSLP variants are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
PMCID: PMC2970693  PMID: 20560908
asthma; genetic association; sex-specific; thymic stromal lymphopoietin; TSLP
18.  MMP12, Lung Function, and COPD in High-Risk Populations 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(27):2599-2608.
Genetic variants influencing lung function in children and adults may ultimately lead to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in high-risk groups.
We tested for an association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) and a measure of lung function (prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) in more than 8300 subjects in seven cohorts that included children and adults. Within the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a cohort of initially healthy adult men, we tested for an association between SNPs that were associated with FEV1 and the time to the onset of COPD. We then examined the relationship between MMP12 SNPs and COPD in two cohorts of adults with COPD or at risk for COPD.
The minor allele (G) of a functional variant in the promoter region of MMP12 (rs2276109 [−82A→G]) was positively associated with FEV1 in a combined analysis of children with asthma and adult former and current smokers in all cohorts (P=2×10−6). This allele was also associated with a reduced risk of the onset of COPD in the NAS cohort (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.92; P = 0.02) and with a reduced risk of COPD in a cohort of smokers (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.88; P = 0.005) and among participants in a family-based study of early-onset COPD (P = 0.006).
The minor allele of a SNP in MMP12 (rs2276109) is associated with a positive effect on lung function in children with asthma and in adults who smoke. This allele is also associated with a reduced risk of COPD in adult smokers.
PMCID: PMC2904064  PMID: 20018959
19.  Assessing the Reproducibility of Asthma Candidate Gene Associations, Using Genome-wide Data 
Rationale: Association studies have implicated many genes in asthma pathogenesis, with replicated associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and asthma reported for more than 30 genes. Genome-wide genotyping enables simultaneous evaluation of most of this variation, and facilitates more comprehensive analysis of other common genetic variation around these candidate genes for association with asthma.
Objectives: To use available genome-wide genotypic data to assess the reproducibility of previously reported associations with asthma and to evaluate the contribution of additional common genetic variation surrounding these loci to asthma susceptibility.
Methods: Illumina Human Hap 550Kv3 BeadChip (Illumina, San Diego, CA) SNP arrays were genotyped in 422 nuclear families participating in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Genes with at least one SNP demonstrating prior association with asthma in two or more populations were tested for evidence of association with asthma, using family-based association testing.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 39 candidate genes from the literature, using prespecified criteria. Of the 160 SNPs previously genotyped in these 39 genes, 10 SNPs in 6 genes were significantly associated with asthma (including the first independent replication for asthma-associated integrin β3 [ITGB3]). Evaluation of 619 additional common variants included in the Illumina 550K array revealed additional evidence of asthma association for 15 genes, although none were significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Conclusions: We replicated asthma associations for a minority of candidate genes. Pooling genome-wide association study results from multiple studies will increase the power to appreciate marginal effects of genes and further clarify which candidates are true “asthma genes.”
PMCID: PMC2695495  PMID: 19264973
asthma; replication; single-nucleotide polymorphism; integrin β3; association
20.  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
21.  Variants in TGFB1, Dust Mite Exposure, and Disease Severity in Children with Asthma 
Rationale: Polymorphisms in the gene for transforming growth factor-β1 (TGFB1) have been associated with asthma, but not with airway responsiveness or disease exacerbations in subjects with asthma.
Objectives: To test for association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TGFB1 and markers of asthma severity in childhood.
Methods: We tested for the association between nine SNPs in TGFB1 and indicators of asthma severity (lung function, airway responsiveness, and disease exacerbations) in two cohorts: 416 Costa Rican parent-child trios and 465 families of non-Hispanic white children in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP). We also tested for the interaction between these polymorphisms and exposure to dust mite allergen on asthma severity.
Measurements and Main Results: The A allele of promoter SNP rs2241712 was associated with increased airway responsiveness in Costa Rica (P = 0.0006) and CAMP (P = 0.005), and the C allele of an SNP in the promoter region (rs1800469) was associated with increased airway responsiveness in both cohorts (P ≤ 0.01). Dust mite exposure modified the effect of the C allele of exonic SNP rs1800471 on airway responsiveness (P = 0.03 for interactions in both cohorts). The T allele of a coding SNP (rs1982073) was associated with a reduced risk of asthma exacerbations in Costa Rica (P = 0.009) and CAMP (P = 0.005). Dust mite exposure also significantly modified the effect of the A allele of the promoter SNP rs2241712 on asthma exacerbations in both cohorts.
Conclusions: SNPs in TGFB1 are associated with airway responsiveness and disease exacerbations in children with asthma. Moreover, dust mite exposure may modify the effect of TGFB1 SNPs on airway responsiveness and asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC2648908  PMID: 19096005
airway responsiveness; asthma; dust mite allergen; single nucleotide polymorphisms; transforming growth factor-β1
22.  Comprehensive Testing of Positionally Cloned Asthma Genes in Two Populations 
Rationale: Replication of gene-disease associations has become a requirement in complex trait genetics.
Objectives: In studies of childhood asthma from two different ethnic groups, we attempted to replicate associations with five potential asthma susceptibility genes previously identified by positional cloning.
Methods: We analyzed two family-based samples ascertained through an asthmatic proband: 497 European-American children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program and 439 Hispanic children from the Central Valley of Costa Rica. We genotyped 98 linkage disequilibrium–tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in five genes: ADAM33, DPP10, GPR154 (HUGO name: NPSR1), HLA-G, and the PHF11 locus (includes genes SETDB2 and RCBTB1). SNPs were tested for association with asthma and two intermediate phenotypes: airway hyperresponsiveness and total serum immunoglobulin E levels.
Measurements and Main Results: Despite differing ancestries, linkage disequilibrium patterns were similar in both cohorts. Of the five evaluated genes, SNP-level replication was found only for GPR154 (NPSR1). In this gene, three SNPs were associated with asthma in both cohorts, although the opposite alleles were associated in either study. Weak evidence for locus-level replication with asthma was found in the PHF11 locus, although there was no overlap in the associated SNP across the two cohorts. No consistent associations were observed for the three other genes.
Conclusions: These results provide some further support for the role of genetic variation in GPR154 (NPSR1) and PHF11 in asthma susceptibility and also highlight the challenges of replicating genetic associations in complex traits such as asthma, even for genes identified by linkage analysis.
PMCID: PMC2048676  PMID: 17702965
bronchial hyperreactivity; immunoglobulin E; linkage disequilibrium; NPSR1; single-nucleotide polymorphism
23.  Mouse exposure and wheeze in the first year of life 
Studies have found that exposure to mice is highly prevalent among children with asthma living in urban areas.
To examine the relationship between exposure to mice and wheeze in the first year of life.
We conducted an ongoing prospective birth cohort study of 498 children with a history of allergy or asthma in at least 1 parent living in metropolitan Boston (the Home Allergens and Asthma Study).
In a multivariate analysis, infants whose parents reported exposure to mice in the household had nearly twice the odds of developing any wheeze in the first year of life as children without exposure (odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14–2.95; P = .01). Other variables associated with wheeze in the first year of life included low birth weight (OR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.06–2.95; P = .03), having at least 1 lower respiratory tract illness (OR, 5.59; 95% CI, 3.46–9.04; P < .001), exposure to high levels of endotoxin at age 2 to 3 months (fourth quartile compared with first quartile: OR, 2.32; 95% CI, 1.19–4.54; P = .01), and exposure to cockroach allergen of 0.05 U/g of dust or more at age 2 to 3 months (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.09–3.08; P = .02).
Among children with a parental history of asthma or allergies, exposure to mice is associated with wheeze in the first year of life, independent of other factors.
PMCID: PMC1256030  PMID: 15948302
24.  Endotoxin Exposure and Eczema in the First Year of Life 
Pediatrics  2004;114(1):13-18.
Exposure to endotoxin in early life has been proposed as a factor that may protect against the development of allergic diseases such as eczema. The objective of this study was to examine the relation between endotoxin exposure in early life and eczema in the first year of life in children with parental history of asthma or allergies.
This study used a prospective birth cohort study of 498 children who had a history of allergy or asthma in at least 1 parent and lived in metropolitan Boston. A subset of 401 living rooms had house dust samples adequate for analysis of endotoxin.
In multivariate analyses adjusting for gender, income, and season of birth, endotoxin levels in the living room at 2 to 3 months of age was inversely associated with physician- or nurse-diagnosed eczema in the first year of life (odds ratio [OR] for each quartile increment: 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.61–0.96). Exposure to a dog in the home at age 2 to 3 months was also inversely associated with eczema in the first year of life, but the CI widened when endotoxin was included in the multivariate model (OR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.27–1.09). Other variables associated with eczema in the first year of life included paternal history of eczema (OR: 1.91; 95% CI: 1.03–3.55) and maternal specific immunoglobulin E positivity to ≥1 allergen (OR: 1.61; 95% CI: 1.01–2.56).
Among children with parental history of asthma or allergies, exposure to high levels of endotoxin in early life may be protective against eczema in the first year of life. In these children, paternal history of eczema and maternal sensitization to at least 1 allergen are associated with an increased risk of eczema in the first year of life.
PMCID: PMC1242194  PMID: 15231902
Ig, immunoglobulin; OR, odds ratio; CI, confidence interval; Th2, T-helper cell type 2
25.  Asthma in Hispanics 
Hispanic individuals trace their ancestry to countries that were previously under Spanish rule, including Mexico, large parts of Central and South America, and some Caribbean islands. Most—but not all—Hispanics have variable proportions of European, Amerindian, and African ancestry. Hispanics are diverse with regard to many factors, including racial ancestry, country of origin, area of residence, socioeconomic status, education, and access to health care. Recent findings suggest that there is marked variation in the prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of asthma in Hispanics in the United States and in Hispanic America. The reasons for differences in asthma and asthma morbidity among and within Hispanic subgroups are poorly understood but are likely due to the interaction between yet-unidentified genetic variants and other factors, including environmental tobacco smoke exposure, obesity, allergen exposure, and availability of health care. Barriers to optimal management of asthma in Hispanics in the United States and in Hispanic America include inadequate access to health care, suboptimal use of antiinflammatory medications, and lack of reference values for spirometric measures of lung function in many subgroups (e.g., Puerto Ricans). Future studies of asthma in Hispanics should include large samples of subgroups that are well characterized with regard to self-reported ethnicity, country of origin, place of birth, area of residence, and indicators of socioeconomic status. Because Hispanics are disproportionately represented among the poor in the United States, implementation of adequate access to health care and social reforms (e.g., improving housing conditions) would likely have a major impact on reducing asthma morbidity in this population.
PMCID: PMC2662985  PMID: 16210666
asthma; genetics; Hispanics; risk factors

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