Genetic variants predispose individuals to life-long risk of asthma

asthma genetics

After a 40 years long study conducted in New Zealand, the researchers from Duke University have concluded that certain genetic variants predispose individuals to a life-long risk of developing asthma. People born with these genes not only run a high risk of developing asthma in their childhood but have an increased likelihood of developing the condition even in their adulthood. The results of the study have been published in the recent issue of the journal Lancet.

The researchers studied individuals who were a part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. The risk genetic variants responsible for the development of asthma were identified in each of the 880 participants. They were added up to determine a genetic risk score for all the participants. The time of developing asthma and the course of the disease in these subjects, right from their childhood to their midlife, was tracked, and co-related to the genetic risk score. The individuals were assessed nine times, from the time they were nine years old till the time they were thirty-eight years old.

The researchers observed that asthma developed at a younger age in individuals with a higher genetic risk score. It was also seen that in participants with a higher score, the asthma was more persistent and likely to continue into adulthood. The asthma in these participants was more severe, associated with allergic reactions, hyper-responsiveness of the airways and poor lung functions like incompletely reversible airflow obstruction. The quality of life of the individuals with a higher genetic risk score was likely to be poorer. Such individuals were more likely to miss school or work and had a higher rate of hospitalizations.

The researchers have opined that genetic risk assessment may help in predicting the severity and course of asthma in an individual. It may also help in identifying the individuals who would develop impaired lung functions. This may help in devising new prevention strategies and formulating newer ways of treating asthma.

Reference:

Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB (Resp Med)

Date: 
Saturday, June 29, 2013