Four more gene variants were found significant for asthma risk by the meta-analysis: the 17q21 locus, and IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33 genes. All four of these sites were concurrently identified in a separate dataset by the GABRIEL Study of more than 40,000 European asthma cases published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. Confirming these associations in the more diverse EVE population offers additional evidence that the gene variants are significant across ethnicities, the researchers reported.
"We were able to show that almost all of the genes other than PYHIN1 are trans-ethnic and important in all of the groups," Ober said.
The Nature Genetics study is only the first fruit of the EVE Consortium mission to understand the genetics of asthma. A deeper meta-analysis looking at a longer list of gene variants is currently underway, and individual groups within the consortium are using the pooled dataset to answer additional questions. Topics of interest include gene-environment interactions, genetic associations with asthma-associated phenotypes such as allergies and lung function, and the role of tissue-specific gene expression.
"What you see here in this paper is only the beginning," Nicolae said. "The foundation was to make people work together, share the data, and share research ideas, and that will generate a lot of research down the road."
|Contact: Robert Mitchum|
University of Chicago Medical Center