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1.  Rhinovirus Wheezing Illness and Genetic Risk of Childhood-Onset Asthma 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(15):1398-1407.
BACKGROUND
Both genetic variation at the 17q21 locus and virus-induced respiratory wheezing illnesses are associated with the development of asthma. Our aim was to determine the effects of these two factors on the risk of asthma in the Childhood Origins of Asthma (COAST) and the Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) birth cohorts.
METHODS
We tested genotypes at the 17q21 locus for associations with asthma and with human rhinovirus (HRV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) wheezing illnesses and tested for interactions between 17q21 genotypes and HRV and RSV wheezing illnesses with respect to the risk of asthma. Finally, we examined genotype-specific expression of 17q21 genes in unstimulated and HRV-stimulated peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).
RESULTS
The 17q21 variants were associated with HRV wheezing illnesses in early life, but not with RSV wheezing illnesses. The associations of 17q21 variants with asthma were restricted to children who had had HRV wheezing illnesses, resulting in a significant interaction effect with respect to the risk of asthma. Moreover, the expression levels of ORMDL3 and of GSDMB were significantly increased in HRV-stimulated PBMCs, as compared with unstimulated PBMCs. The expression of these genes was associated with 17q21 variants in both conditions, although the increase with exposure to HRV was not genotype-specific.
CONCLUSIONS
Variants at the 17q21 locus were associated with asthma in children who had had HRV wheezing illnesses and with expression of two genes at this locus. The expression levels of both genes increased in response to HRV stimulation, although the relative increase was not associated with the 17q21 genotypes. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1211592
PMCID: PMC3755952  PMID: 23534543
2.  Genomewide Association between GLCCI1 and Response to Glucocorticoid Therapy in Asthma 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(13):1173-1183.
BACKGROUND
The response to treatment for asthma is characterized by wide interindividual variability, with a significant number of patients who have no response. We hypothesized that a genomewide association study would reveal novel pharmacogenetic determinants of the response to inhaled glucocorticoids.
METHODS
We analyzed a small number of statistically powerful variants selected on the basis of a family-based screening algorithm from among 534,290 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine changes in lung function in response to inhaled glucocorticoids. A significant, replicated association was found, and we characterized its functional effects.
RESULTS
We identified a significant pharmacogenetic association at SNP rs37972, replicated in four independent populations totaling 935 persons (P = 0.0007), which maps to the glucocorticoid-induced transcript 1 gene (GLCCI1) and is in complete linkage disequilibrium (i.e., perfectly correlated) with rs37973. Both rs37972 and rs37973 are associated with decrements in GLCCI1 expression. In isolated cell systems, the rs37973 variant is associated with significantly decreased luciferase reporter activity. Pooled data from treatment trials indicate reduced lung function in response to inhaled glucocorticoids in subjects with the variant allele (P = 0.0007 for pooled data). Overall, the mean (± SE) increase in forced expiratory volume in 1 second in the treated subjects who were homozygous for the mutant rs37973 allele was only about one third of that seen in similarly treated subjects who were homozygous for the wild-type allele (3.2 ± 1.6% vs. 9.4 ± 1.1%), and their risk of a poor response was significantly higher (odds ratio, 2.36; 95% confidence interval, 1.27 to 4.41), with genotype accounting for about 6.6% of overall inhaled glucocorticoid response variability.
CONCLUSIONS
A functional GLCCI1 variant is associated with substantial decrements in the response to inhaled glucocorticoids in patients with asthma. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00000575.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0911353
PMCID: PMC3667396  PMID: 21991891
3.  Daily or Intermittent Budesonide in Preschool Children with Recurrent Wheezing 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(21):1990-2001.
BACKGROUND
Daily inhaled glucocorticoids are recommended for young children at risk for asthma exacerbations, as indicated by a positive value on the modified asthma predictive index (API) and an exacerbation in the preceding year, but concern remains about daily adherence and effects on growth. We compared daily therapy with intermittent therapy.
METHODS
We studied 278 children between the ages of 12 and 53 months who had positive values on the modified API, recurrent wheezing episodes, and at least one exacerbation in the previous year but a low degree of impairment. Children were randomly assigned to receive a budesonide inhalation suspension for 1 year as either an intermittent high-dose regimen (1 mg twice daily for 7 days, starting early during a predefined respiratory tract illness) or a daily low-dose regimen (0.5 mg nightly) with corresponding placebos. The primary outcome was the frequency of exacerbations requiring oral glucocorticoid therapy.
RESULTS
The daily regimen of budesonide did not differ significantly from the intermittent regimen with respect to the frequency of exacerbations, with a rate per patient-year for the daily regimen of 0.97 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76 to 1.22) versus a rate of 0.95 (95% CI, 0.75 to 1.20) for the intermittent regimen (relative rate in the intermittent-regimen group, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.71 to 1.35; P=0.60). There were also no significant between-group differences in several other measures of asthma severity, including the time to the first exacerbation, or adverse events. The mean exposure to budesonide was 104 mg less with the intermittent regimen than with the daily regimen.
CONCLUSIONS
A daily low-dose regimen of budesonide was not superior to an intermittent high-dose regimen in reducing asthma exacerbations. Daily administration led to greater exposure to the drug at 1 year.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1104647
PMCID: PMC3247621  PMID: 22111718
4.  Tiotropium Bromide Step-Up Therapy for Adults with Uncontrolled Asthma 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;363(18):1715-1726.
BACKGROUND
Long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) therapy improves symptoms in patients whose asthma is poorly controlled by an inhaled glucocorticoid alone. Alternative treatments for adults with uncontrolled asthma are needed.
METHODS
In a three-way, double-blind, triple-dummy crossover trial involving 210 patients with asthma, we evaluated the addition of tiotropium bromide (a long-acting anticholinergic agent approved for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but not asthma) to an inhaled glucocorticoid, as compared with a doubling of the dose of the inhaled glucocorticoid (primary superiority comparison) or the addition of the LABA salmeterol (secondary noninferiority comparison).
RESULTS
The use of tiotropium resulted in a superior primary outcome, as compared with a doubling of the dose of an inhaled glucocorticoid, as assessed by measuring the morning peak expiratory flow (PEF), with a mean difference of 25.8 liters per minute (P<0.001) and superiority in most secondary outcomes, including evening PEF, with a difference of 35.3 liters per minute (P<0.001); the proportion of asthma-control days, with a difference of 0.079 (P = 0.01); the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) before bronchodilation, with a difference of 0.10 liters (P = 0.004); and daily symptom scores, with a difference of −0.11 points (P<0.001). The addition of tiotropium was also noninferior to the addition of salmeterol for all assessed outcomes and increased the prebronchodilator FEV1 more than did salmeterol, with a difference of 0.11 liters (P = 0.003).
CONCLUSIONS
When added to an inhaled glucocorticoid, tiotropium improved symptoms and lung function in patients with inadequately controlled asthma. Its effects appeared to be equivalent to those with the addition of salmeterol. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00565266.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1008770
PMCID: PMC3011177  PMID: 20979471
5.  Step-up Therapy for Children with Uncontrolled Asthma While Receiving Inhaled Corticosteroids 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;362(11):975-985.
BACKGROUND
For children who have uncontrolled asthma despite the use of low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), evidence to guide step-up therapy is lacking.
METHODS
We randomly assigned 182 children (6 to 17 years of age), who had uncontrolled asthma while receiving 100 µg of fluticasone twice daily, to receive each of three blinded step-up therapies in random order for 16 weeks: 250 µg of fluticasone twice daily (ICS step-up), 100 µg of fluticasone plus 50 µg of a long-acting beta-agonist twice daily (LABA step-up), or 100 µg of fluticasone twice daily plus 5 or 10 mg of a leukotriene-receptor antagonist daily (LTRA step-up). We used a triple-crossover design and a composite of three outcomes (exacerbations, asthma-control days, and the forced expiratory volume in 1 second) to determine whether the frequency of a differential response to the step-up regimens was more than 25%.
RESULTS
A differential response occurred in 161 of 165 patients who were evaluated (P<0.001). The response to LABA step-up therapy was most likely to be the best response, as compared with responses to LTRA step-up (relative probability, 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1 to 2.3; P = 0.004) and ICS step-up (relative probability, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2 to 2.4; P = 0.002). Higher scores on the Asthma Control Test before randomization (indicating better control at baseline) predicted a better response to LABA step-up (P = 0.009). White race predicted a better response to LABA step-up, whereas black patients were least likely to have a best response to LTRA step-up (P = 0.005).
CONCLUSIONS
Nearly all the children had a differential response to each step-up therapy. LABA step-up was significantly more likely to provide the best response than either ICS or LTRA step-up. However, many children had a best response to ICS or LTRA step-up therapy, highlighting the need to regularly monitor and appropriately adjust each child’s asthma therapy. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00395304.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1001278
PMCID: PMC2989902  PMID: 20197425
6.  Effect of Variation in CHI3L1 on Serum YKL-40 Level, Risk of Asthma, and Lung Function 
The New England journal of medicine  2008;358(16):1682-1691.
BACKGROUND
The chitinase-like protein YKL-40 is involved in inflammation and tissue remodeling. We recently showed that serum YKL-40 levels were elevated in patients with asthma and were correlated with severity, thickening of the subepithelial basement membrane, and pulmonary function. We hypothesized that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that affect YKL-40 levels also influence asthma status and lung function.
METHODS
We carried out a genomewide association study of serum YKL-40 levels in a founder population of European descent, the Hutterites, and then tested for an association between an implicated SNP and asthma and lung function. One associated variant was genotyped in a birth cohort at high risk for asthma, in which YKL-40 levels were measured from birth through 5 years of age, and in two populations of unrelated case patients of European descent with asthma and controls.
RESULTS
A promoter SNP (−131C→G) in CHI3L1, the chitinase 3–like 1 gene encoding YKL-40, was associated with elevated serum YKL-40 levels (P = 1.1×10−13), asthma (P = 0.047), bronchial hyperresponsiveness (P = 0.002), and measures of pulmonary function (P = 0.046 to 0.002) in the Hutterites. The same SNP could be used to predict the presence of asthma in the two case–control populations (combined P = 1.2×10−5) and serum YKL-40 levels at birth (in cord-blood specimens) through 5 years of age in the birth cohort (P = 8.9×10−3 to 2.5×10−4).
CONCLUSIONS
CHI3L1 is a susceptibility gene for asthma, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and reduced lung function, and elevated circulating YKL-40 levels are a biomarker for asthma and decline in lung function.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0708801
PMCID: PMC2629486  PMID: 18403759

Results 1-6 (6)