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Eur Respir J. 2007 Jan;29(1):179-84.

Genes, environments, development and asthma: a reappraisal.

Author information

  • Arizona Respiratory Center, University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ, USA. fernando@arc.arizona.edu


Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the role of genetic variation in determining complex human phenotypes such as asthma. It is now well established that there is no single "gene for asthma", in the way that the cystic fibrosis transmembrane receptor is the "gene for cystic fibrosis". It is also clear that among all genetic variants eventually found to be associated with asthma, only a few will be replicated, and in the same direction, in the majority of well-performed studies. Current evidence suggests that most asthma-related polymorphisms determine risk for the disease in a context-dependent manner, i.e. they interact with environmental factors, with polymorphisms in other genes and with the specific developmental phase of the disease in which the association is tested. Elucidating these complex interactions will allow us to understand better the heterogeneity of the disease and thus to develop therapeutic tools tailored to the specific form of the disease in each patient.

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