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Lung disease may be genetic, despite lack of family history
Date:5/17/2010

ATS 2010 NEW ORLEANSPatients who encounter serious lung diseases in middle age, despite an absence of family history or other predisposing factors, may still have their genes to blame, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study also determined that the use of a simple screening test may help identify those genetic abnormalities and allow detection before the onset of disease.

"Earlier reports have indicated a correlation between certain nontuberculous mycobacterial respiratory infections and specific gene abnormalities," noted lead author Kenneth Olivier, M.D., M.P.H., NIAID staff clinician. "The results of this study confirm the correlation, and indicate the usefulness of simple testing in identifying these abnormalities, especially in an older population."

The results will be reported at the ATS 2010 International Conference in New Orleans.

The study of 32 patients focused on the movement of cilia, the tiny hair-like filaments that line the respiratory tract. In normal respiration, cilia help move dust and other fine particles out of the airway, keeping passages clear of harmful bacteria and other pathogens. When cilia are altered as the result of genetic mutation, they may fail to function properly, allowing disease-causing bacteria to build up.

"Genetic abnormalities in this clearance mechanism may predispose some older individuals to the development of certain pulmonary diseases, even though those individuals do not appear to have any predisposing factors," Dr. Olivier said.

Physicians can determine whether patients are at risk of the cilia not functioning correctly through a simple, noninvasive test that measures the levels of nitric oxide produced in the nose and sinuses. In patients who are predisposed to nontuberculous lung diseases, Dr. Olivier noted nitric oxide levels signif
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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