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Eur Respir J. 2008 Sep;32(3):775-82. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00093608.

Genetic testing for asthma.

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Dept of Paediatric Pulmonology and Paediatric Allergology, Beatrix Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands.


Asthma is a genetically complex disease caused by multiple genetic and environmental factors. An increasing number of asthma susceptibility genes are currently being identified. The present study addresses the question as to whether this genetic information can be used to predict asthma, particularly in pre-school children. The predictive value of a single gene test in a complex disease is very limited for diagnostic or preventive purposes and thus cannot be recommended. Based on data of simulation studies and other complex diseases, the use of genetic profiling that incorporates multiple genetic risk factors holds promise for clinical application. The results of genome-wide association studies will be crucial in establishing this genetic risk profile for asthma. In the future, asthma prediction may be possible, based on a prediction model that incorporates genes, personal factors and environmental risk factors. Studies in general and at-risk populations are needed to investigate and validate this approach.

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