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Moldy homes a serious risk for severe asthma attacks in some
Date:6/23/2010

Exposure to high levels of fungus may increase the risk of severe asthma attacks among people with certain chitinase gene variants, according to a study from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The research was published online on the American Thoracic Society's journal Web site ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"We found that the interaction between environmental mold exposure and certain variants of chitinase genes were positively associated with severe asthma exacerbations requiring hospitalization," said lead researcher, Ann Wu, assistant professor at the at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

Chitinases break down chitin, a component in many fungi, and are induced during allergic inflammation. It has been suggested by past research that these could be biomarkers of inflammation. Moreover, certain variants of chitinase genes are known to be expressed more heavily in people with asthma.

The researchers used data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program, a multicenter trial that enrolled children between the ages of 5 and 12 with mild to moderate persistent asthma. Mold measures were taken in the subjects' homes at the beginning of the study, and homes were classified as having greater or less than 25,000 mold colonies per gram of household dust.

"This level of mold in dust is high for a residential environment. However, it is not likely to be easily recognized. Studies have shown that homes that have problems with dampness (e.g. visible mold on walls/ceilings, water collection in basement, etc.) have higher levels of mold, but there is no specific level that is currently accepted to 'cause' problems," said Dr. Wu.

Finally, using blood samples, the researchers genotyped all the single nucleotide polymorphismsSNPs, or variants in which just a si
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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