Genetic and Environmental Factors in Asthma

  • David B. Peden


Asthma and other allergic diseases are among the most common disorders in the United States, with asthma being a leading cause for hospitalization and lost school days for children. Asthma is a complex disease, characterized by eosinophilic inflammation, mucus cell hypertrophy and hypersecretion, airway reactivity and bronchoconstriction. Linkage analyses have identified loci on chromosomes 1–7, 11–13, 16, 19 and 20 that are associated with various phenotypes consistent with asthma (Ober and Moffatt 2000; Ober and Hoffjan 2006). Given the biological complexity of asthma, it is not surprizing that a wide variety of genes have been associated with this syndrome. However, despite the large number of genes associated with asthma, this disease increased at an alarming rate beginning approximately 50 years ago. The sudden increase in asthma suggests that changes in both environmental exposures and lifestyle factors are a major reason for the increase in disease (Eder et al. 2006). Initially, this increase was most notable in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. However, increased incidence of asthma has more recently been reported in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, with many speculating that this is linked with adoption of an increasingly Western lifestyle. This chapter will examine many environmental factors which influence asthma development and exacerbation, genetic factors which have been identified as risk factors for developing asthma, and examples of gene-by-environment interactions in expression of this disease.


Allergic Disease Environmental Tobacco Smoke Allergen Exposure Mite Allergen GSTM1 Null Genotype 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung BiologySchool of Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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