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J Asthma. 2008 May;45(4):257-64. doi: 10.1080/02770900801966180.

Asthma genetics: personalizing medicine.

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  • 1Institute for Personalized and Predictive Medicine and Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that leads to significant morbidity, mortality, and economic burden. The clinical symptoms, which are a result of airway inflammation and reversible airway obstruction, have led to the mainstay of therapies for asthma: anti-inflammatory medications and bronchodilators. However, the efficacies of the various classes of medications are not equal among all patients and may be affected by asthma phenotypes, environmental exposures, and genetic differences. Similarly, the risk for developing asthma and the natural history of the disease show great inter-individual variability due to these same factors. Over the past few decades, much effort has been focused on the genetics of asthma, and investigators have identified more than one hundred potential asthma susceptibility genes, of which at least ten have been replicated in numerous independent studies. In parallel, researchers have also identified genetic factors that impact the pharmacotherapeutic responses to the major classes of asthma medications. While the results of previous studies have been promising, future investigations need to combine genetics, pharmacogenetics, accurate disease phenotyping, and environmental exposures to build the foundation for personalized and predictive medicine for the 21st century. The ultimate goal is to enable physicians to identify those at risk for asthma, intervene to prevent or attenuate the disease, and select the optimal medical regimen for each individual patient. If successful, the resulting paradigm shift in medical practice will lead to improved clinical outcomes and decreased health care expenditures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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