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Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:55-80. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.031308.100151.

Gene by environment interaction in asthma.

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Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Marked international differences in rates of asthma and allergies and the importance of family history highlight the primacy of interactions between genetic variation and the environment in asthma etiology. Environmental tobacco smoke (or secondhand smoke), ambient air pollutants, and endotoxin and/or other pathogen-associated molecular patterns are the ambient exposures studied most frequently for interactions with genetic polymorphisms in asthma. To date, results from the literature remain inconclusive. Most published studies are underpowered to study interactions between genetic polymorphisms and ambient exposures, each with weak effects. Strategies to increase power include cooperation across studies to increase sample sizes and improve measures of both exposure and asthma phenotypes. Genome-wide association studies hold promise for identifying unexpected gene environment interactions, but given the statistical power issues, candidate gene association studies will remain important. New tools are enabling the study of epigenetic mechanisms for environmental interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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