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1.  Expression analysis of asthma candidate genes during human and murine lung development 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):86.
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.
PMCID: PMC3141421  PMID: 21699702
Asthma; Development; Expression; Genetics; Lung
2.  Asthma and genes encoding components of the vitamin D pathway 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):98.
Genetic variants at the vitamin D receptor (VDR) locus are associated with asthma and atopy. We hypothesized that polymorphisms in other genes of the vitamin D pathway are associated with asthma or atopy.
Eleven candidate genes were chosen for this study, five of which code for proteins in the vitamin D metabolism pathway (CYP27A1, CYP27B1, CYP2R1, CYP24A1, GC) and six that are known to be transcriptionally regulated by vitamin D (IL10, IL1RL1, CD28, CD86, IL8, SKIIP). For each gene, we selected a maximally informative set of common SNPs (tagSNPs) using the European-derived (CEU) HapMap dataset. A total of 87 SNPs were genotyped in a French-Canadian family sample ascertained through asthmatic probands (388 nuclear families, 1064 individuals) and evaluated using the Family Based Association Test (FBAT) program. We then sought to replicate the positive findings in four independent samples: two from Western Canada, one from Australia and one from the USA (CAMP).
A number of SNPs in the IL10, CYP24A1, CYP2R1, IL1RL1 and CD86 genes were modestly associated with asthma and atopy (p < 0.05). Two-gene models testing for both main effects and the interaction were then performed using conditional logistic regression. Two-gene models implicating functional variants in the IL10 and VDR genes as well as in the IL10 and IL1RL1 genes were associated with asthma (p < 0.0002). In the replicate samples, SNPs in the IL10 and CYP24A1 genes were again modestly associated with asthma and atopy (p < 0.05). However, the SNPs or the orientation of the risk alleles were different between populations. A two-gene model involving IL10 and VDR was replicated in CAMP, but not in the other populations.
A number of genes involved in the vitamin D pathway demonstrate modest levels of association with asthma and atopy. Multilocus models testing genes in the same pathway are potentially more effective to evaluate the risk of asthma, but the effects are not uniform across populations.
PMCID: PMC2779188  PMID: 19852851
3.  Importin-13 genetic variation is associated with improved airway responsiveness in childhood asthma 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):67.
Glucocorticoid function is dependent on efficient translocation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) from the cytoplasm to the nucleus of cells. Importin-13 (IPO13) is a nuclear transport receptor that mediates nuclear entry of GR. In airway epithelial cells, inhibition of IPO13 expression prevents nuclear entry of GR and abrogates anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids. Impaired nuclear entry of GR has been documented in steroid-non-responsive asthmatics. We hypothesize that common IPO13 genetic variation influences the anti-inflammatory effects of inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of asthma, as measured by change in methacholine airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR-PC20).
10 polymorphisms were evaluated in 654 children with mild-to-moderate asthma participating in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), a clinical trial of inhaled anti-inflammatory medications (budesonide and nedocromil). Population-based association tests with repeated measures of PC20 were performed using mixed models and confirmed using family-based tests of association.
Among participants randomized to placebo or nedocromil, IPO13 polymorphisms were associated with improved PC20 (i.e. less AHR), with subjects harboring minor alleles demonstrating an average 1.51–2.17 fold increase in mean PC20 at 8-months post-randomization that persisted over four years of observation (p = 0.01–0.005). This improvement was similar to that among children treated with long-term inhaled corticosteroids. There was no additional improvement in PC20 by IPO13 variants among children treated with inhaled corticosteroids.
IPO13 variation is associated with improved AHR in asthmatic children. The degree of this improvement is similar to that observed with long-term inhaled corticosteroid treatment, suggesting that IPO13 variation may improve nuclear bioavailability of endogenous glucocorticoids.
PMCID: PMC2724419  PMID: 19619331
4.  Neonatal immune responses to TLR2 stimulation: Influence of maternal atopy on Foxp3 and IL-10 expression 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):40.
Maternal atopic background and stimulation of the adaptive immune system with allergen interact in the development of allergic disease. Stimulation of the innate immune system through microbial exposure, such as activation of the innate Toll-like-receptor 2 (TLR2), may reduce the development of allergy in childhood. However, little is known about the immunological effects of microbial stimulation on early immune responses and in association with maternal atopy.
We analyzed immune responses of cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) from 50 healthy neonates (31 non-atopic and 19 atopic mothers). Cells were stimulated with the TLR2 agonist peptidoglycan (Ppg) or the allergen house dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae (Derf1), and results compared to unstimulated cells. We analyzed lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine secretion of CBMC. In addition, we assessed gene expression associated with T regulatory cells including the transcription factor Foxp3, the glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor (GITR), and the cytotoxic lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4). Lymphocyte proliferation was measured by 3H-Thymidine uptake, cytokine concentrations determined by ELISA, mRNA expression of T cell markers by real-time RT-PCR.
Ppg stimulation induced primarily IL-10 cytokine production, in addition to IFN-γ, IL-13 and TNF-α secretion. GITR was increased following Ppg stimulation (p = 0.07). Ppg-induced IL-10 production and induction of Foxp3 were higher in CBMC without, than with maternal atopy (p = 0.04, p = 0.049). IL-10 production was highly correlated with increased expression of Foxp3 (r = 0.53, p = 0.001), GITR (r = 0.47, p = 0.004) and CTLA4 (r = 0.49, p = 0.003), independent of maternal atopy.
TLR2 stimulation with Ppg induces IL-10 and genes associated with T regulatory cells, influenced by maternal atopy. Increased IL-10 and Foxp3 induction in CBMC of non-atopic compared to atopic mothers, may indicate an increased capacity to respond to microbial stimuli.
PMCID: PMC1435749  PMID: 16551363
5.  Polymorphisms in signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and lung function in asthma 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):52.
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.
PMCID: PMC1180474  PMID: 15935090
6.  Childhood infections and asthma: at the crossroads of the hygiene and Barker hypotheses 
Respiratory Research  2001;2(6):324-327.
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.
PMCID: PMC64800  PMID: 11737930
asthma; child; fetal programming; gene by environment; infection

Results 1-6 (6)