Integrative approach identifies corticosteroid response variant in diverse populations with asthma

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The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology


BACKGROUND: Although inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) medication is considered the cornerstone treatment for patients with persistent asthma, few ICS pharmacogenomic studies have involved nonwhite populations.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify genetic predictors of ICS response in multiple population groups with asthma.

METHODS: The discovery group comprised African American participants from the Study of Asthma Phenotypes and Pharmacogenomic Interactions by Race-Ethnicity (SAPPHIRE) who underwent 6 weeks of monitored ICS therapy (n = 244). A genome-wide scan was performed to identify single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variants jointly associated (ie, the combined effect of the SNP and SNP × ICS treatment interaction) with changes in asthma control. Top associations were validated by assessing the joint association with asthma exacerbations in 3 additional groups: African Americans (n = 803 and n = 563) and Latinos (n = 1461). RNA sequencing data from 408 asthmatic patients and 405 control subjects were used to examine whether genotype was associated with gene expression.

RESULTS: One variant, rs3827907, was significantly associated with ICS-mediated changes in asthma control in the discovery set (P = 7.79 × 10-8) and was jointly associated with asthma exacerbations in 3 validation cohorts (P = .023, P = .029, and P = .041). RNA sequencing analysis found the rs3827907 C-allele to be associated with lower RNASE2 expression (P = 6.10 × 10-4). RNASE2 encodes eosinophil-derived neurotoxin, and the rs3827907 C-allele appeared to particularly influence ICS treatment response in the presence of eosinophilic inflammation (ie, high pretreatment eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels or blood eosinophil counts).

CONCLUSION: We identified a variant, rs3827907, that appears to influence response to ICS treatment in multiple population groups and likely mediates its effect through eosinophils.

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ePub ahead of print