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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):603-20. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq403. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Interactive effects of antioxidant genes and air pollution on respiratory function and airway disease: a HuGE review.

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Institute of Genetic Medicine, EURAC Research, Viale Druso 1, 39100 Bolzano, Italy.


Susceptibility to the respiratory effects of air pollution varies between individuals. Although some evidence suggests higher susceptibility for subjects carrying variants of antioxidant genes, findings from gene-pollution interaction studies conflict in terms of the presence and direction of interactions. The authors conducted a systematic review on antioxidant gene-pollution interactions which included 15 studies, with 12 supporting the presence of interactions. For the glutathione S-transferase M1 gene (GSTM1) (n=10 studies), only 1 study found interaction with the null genotype alone, although 5 observed interactions when GSTM1 was evaluated jointly with other genes (mainly NAD(P)H dehydrogenase [quinone] 1 (NQO1)). All studies on the glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) Ile105Val polymorphism (n=11) provided some evidence of interaction, but findings conflicted in terms of risk allele. Results were negative for glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1) (n=3) and positive for heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1) (n=2). Meta-analysis could not be performed because there were insufficient data available for any specific gene-pollutant-outcome combination. Overall the evidence supports the presence of gene-pollution interactions, although which pollutant interacts with which gene is unclear. However, issues regarding multiple testing, selective reporting, and publication bias raise the possibility of false-positive findings. Larger studies with greater accuracy of pollution assessment and improved quality of conduct and reporting are required.

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