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Are genetic variants linked to hospitalizations in adults with asthma?

Published: September 2, 2020

Asthma affects over 270 million people worldwide. In the U.S., there are approximately 1.8 million emergency department (ED) visits and 190,000 hospitalizations for asthma per year. Severe asthma exacerbations (SAEs) are episodes of disease worsening requiring a change in treatment to prevent a serious outcome. As such, SAEs include nearly all hospitalizations and most ED visits for asthma. However, little is known about the genetic determinants of SAEs.

In a study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Yan and colleagues aimed to identify genetic variants associated with hospitalizations for asthma in adults. Using data from the UK Biobank (UKB), the authors examined the relationship between genome-wide genetic variants and hospitalizations for asthma in a cohort of 34,167 adults of European ancestry who self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma but no emphysema or chronic bronchitis. The researchers found that variants in the genomic region for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genes (on chromosome 6p21.3) were significantly associated with increased risk of hospitalizations for asthma, and that such variants may increase the risk of asthma hospitalizations by affecting the expression of three HLA genes (HLA-DQA2, HLA-DRB6, and HLA-DOB) in lung tissue.

In summary, this study suggests that genetic variants in the region for HLA class II genes are associated with increased risk of a hospitalization for asthma among British adults.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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