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Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine

Gene-Gene and Gene-Environmental Interactions of Childhood Asthma: A Multifactor Dimension Reduction Approach
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Author: Ming-Wei Su et al.

by Ming-Wei Su, Kuan-Yen Tung, Pi-Hui Liang, Ching-Hui Tsai, Nai-Wei Kuo, Yungling Leo Lee


The importance of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions on asthma is well documented in literature, but a systematic analysis on the interaction between various genetic and environmental factors is still lacking.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We conducted a population-based, case-control study comprised of seventh-grade children from 14 Taiwanese communities. A total of 235 asthmatic cases and 1,310 non-asthmatic controls were selected for DNA collection and genotyping. We examined the gene-gene and gene-environment interactions between 17 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in antioxidative, inflammatory and obesity-related genes, and childhood asthma. Environmental exposures and disease status were obtained from parental questionnaires. The model-free and non-parametrical multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) method was used for the analysis. A three-way gene-gene interaction was elucidated between the gene coding glutathione S-transferase P (GSTP1), the gene coding interleukin-4 receptor alpha chain (IL4Ra) and the gene coding insulin induced gene 2 (INSIG2) on the risk of lifetime asthma. The testing-balanced accuracy on asthma was 57.83% with a cross-validation consistency of 10 out of 10. The interaction of preterm birth and indoor dampness had the highest training-balanced accuracy at 59.09%. Indoor dampness also interacted with many genes, including IL13, beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2), signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6). We also used likelihood ratio tests for interaction and chi-square tests to validate our results and all tests showed statistical significance.


The results of this study suggest that GSTP1, INSIG2 and IL4Ra may influence the lifetime asthma susceptibility through gene-gene interactions in schoolchildren. Home dampness combined with each one of the genes STAT6, IL13 and ADRB2 could raise the asthma risk.