Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Modified Effect on Asthma: Ozone and Secondhand Smoke Outweigh Genetic Influence

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Modified Effect on Asthma: Ozone and Secondhand Smoke Outweigh Genetic Influence

Article excerpt

Individual variations in genes, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), help to explain why some children are more susceptible to asthma and allergies. But does exposure to ozone or secondhand smoke alter this genetic susceptibility? Public health experts from Mexico and the United States report that, in 596 families with asthmatic children living in Mexico City, where ozone levels rank as the highest in North America, parental smoking can indeed modify the risk conferred by a particular SNP [EHP 115:616-622; Wu et al.].

Complex interactions among genes and environmental triggers are known to contribute to asthma and allergic reactions in children. Exposure to ozone, for instance, turns on the TNF gene for the production of tumor necrosis factor-[alpha], a cytokine that causes airway inflammation. So does exposure to cigarette smoke.

The children, who ranged in age from 4 to 17 years, largely had mild asthma. Half lived with a smoking parent. The researchers measured variations in TNF and the gene for lymphotoxin-[alpha] (LTA) in the children and their parents. …

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