The findings appear in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The study is based on an Affymetrix "GeneChip" analysis of RNA isolated from the nasal epithelium of children who have an acute case of asthma or asthma stabilized with medication. The analysis revealed two distinct gene expression profiles in these groups of children, according to Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Translational Research in Asthma and Allergy at Cincinnati Children's and senior author of the study.
"We found that children who were having an acute asthma attack had a gene expression profile that was clearly different from those seen in someone with stable (controlled) asthma. The amazing thing was that the gene expression profiles were consistent across patients, despite the likely differences with respect to the cause of asthma," she said.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood affecting 20 million Americans, according the Centers for Disease Control. Experts know that environmental factors can lead to asthmatic conditions in children, but they also know that genetics contributes to susceptibility. There are no cures for asthma, but it can be controlled with treatment.
To date, researchers have identified individual genes involved in asthma, but this is the first time that clusters of known genes have been identified as being activated in acute forms of childhood asthma.
Dr. Hershey said the findings open the door to the possibility of developing treatments based on the unique genetic profile of patien
Contact: Amy Reyes
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center