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Annu Rev Med. 2005;56:383-400.

Gene-environment interactions in asthma and other respiratory diseases.

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Laboratory of Respiratory Biology, Environmental Genetics Group, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, North Carolina 27709, USA.


It is generally agreed that many lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have polygenic inheritance, and that the association of a specific genotype or genotypes with the disease is likely to vary between populations. Furthermore, it is recognized that the etiology of many lung diseases involves a complex interplay between genetic background and exposure to multiple environmental stimuli, and understanding the mechanisms through which genes and environment interact represents a major challenge for pulmonary researchers. We discuss experimental approaches and challenges that must be overcome to identify disease genes for asthma, COPD and chronic bronchitis, and occupational lung diseases. In particular, common polymorphisms in CD14, glutathione S-transferase, and tumor necrosis factor alpha have been found to be important in gene-environment interaction and asthma pathogenesis. An understanding of gene-environment interactions in complex lung diseases is essential to the development of new strategies for lung disease prevention and treatment.

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