Genetics Suggest Asthma Is Not One Disease But "Umbrella" Term for Multiple Conditions

Estimates of the heritability of asthma are as high as 70% (CCJM, 2012).

The fact that some gene variants contribute to early-onset asthma but not later-onset asthma may point out that asthma is not one disease but several different conditions.

"Since early-onset asthma and late-onset asthma have distinct genetic underpinnings, they are likely to result from distinct pathobiologic mechanisms," Dr. Demenais and colleagues wrote.


Human chromosomes (grey) capped by telomeres (white). Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

There is a growing consensus that "asthma is not one disease but merely the clinical manifestation of several different disease entities."

References:

Genetics of Asthma Suggest It Is Umbrella Term for Multiple Diseases. John Gever, Staff Writer, MedPage Today.
Bouzigon E, et al "Effect of 17q21 variants and smoking exposure in early-onset asthma" N Engl J Med 2008; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0806604.
Consumer genomics company 23andMe now tests for hay fever, and atopic dermatitis. Clinical relevance is unclear.

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