Moldy Homes Linked to Higher Risk of Severe Asthma Attacks

Children with CHIT1 variants, high mold exposure at increased risk of exacerbations
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- High mold exposure in the home may lead to an increased risk of severe asthma attacks among children with variants in the chitinase gene CHIT1, according to research published online June 10 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Ann Chen Wu, M.D., of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 395 white children, aged 5 to 12 years, who underwent genotyping of 48 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in two chitinases -- CHIT1 and CHIA -- and the chitinase 3-like 1 gene, CHI3L1, and a CHIT1 duplication. Their household mold levels were assessed from house dust samples.

The researchers found that the combination of high environmental mold exposure and CHIT1 variants was associated with an increased risk if severe asthma attacks involving emergency department visits and hospitalizations in a four-year period.

"Both in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that chitin and chitin derivatives have important immunologic effects and play an important role in pulmonary inflammation. The literature suggesting the importance of chitinases in the pathophysiology of asthma is strong, and chitinases may play a role in future targets for asthma therapy. In future genetic studies of asthma, measurements of fungal levels could contribute important knowledge on the pathophysiology of asthma," the authors write.

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