Thursday, November 1, 2018

How Genetics and Pollution Affect the Severity of Asthma Symptoms

Dr. Shepherd Schurman and Dr. Stavros Garantziotis from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) discovered that a certain combination of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affected the severity of a patient's asthma symptoms after being exposed to traffic pollution. They found that asthma patients that lacked this specific genetic profile weren't sensitive to traffic pollution and didn't experience any changes in the severity of their symptoms. The Environmental Polymorphisms Registry (EPR), a DNA bank in North Carolina that provided the volunteers for the study, studies the relationship between SNPs, disease risk, and environmental exposures.

The two scientists examined four SNPs that lead to an inflammatory response in the body to determine if certain combinations could worsen symptoms in asthma patients. They gathered information about SNPs, the severity of the asthma symptoms, and house addresses from 2,704 EPR participants that had asthma. They divided the participants into three groups based on their asthma symptoms, which ranged from individuals who are highly sensitive to air pollution to individuals that weren't sensitive to it. The addresses were used to determine the distance each participant lived from a major road.

The data suggested that the air pollution levels were higher near major roads than smaller ones. The asthma patients who were highly sensitive to air pollution and lived near major roads had the worst symptoms. The asthma patients who weren't sensitive to it and lived further away from major roads had the mildest symptoms.

I think that this discovery is significant because it can explain why some asthma patients are more sensitive to air pollution than others. It's also possible that this discovery could affect the treatment plans for asthma patients by considering these effects on their symptoms. This would also ensure that asthma patients receive personalized treatment plans and recommendations for a lower cost.

Shepherd H. Schurman, Mercedes A. Bravo, Cynthia L. Innes, W. Braxton Jackson, John A. McGrath, Marie Lynn Miranda, Stavros Garantziotis. Toll-like Receptor 4 Pathway Polymorphisms Interact with Pollution to Influence Asthma Diagnosis and Severity. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-30865-0

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has asthma, I don't know much detail about the condition, but after reading about this, it's nice to finally understand why some asthma patients are more sensitive to pollution than others. It's also interesting to see how certain combinations of SNP is related tot he severity of the patient's asthma symptoms.