Chronic exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke causes some children and adolescents to go on to develop serious chest problems like asthma, while others do not appear to be particularly affected.
The researchers, within the University of Dundee Medical School, believe they have discovered why only some people develop these problems. They have identified gene defects that increase the risk of developing asthma, and worsen lung function in patients with asthma, when exposed to tobacco smoke in the environment.
Dr. Somnath Mukhopadhyay, consultant paediatrician at the Children’s Asthma and Allergy Unit within Tayside Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Colin Palmer, a molecular geneticist at the Biomedical Research Centre, studied 600 children and adolescents with asthma attending GP surgeries and hospitals within Tayside.
They checked airway peak flows, using a simple blowing test, and studied genes that help eliminate inhaled toxins.
The genes that they studied help the body produce an enzyme called glutathione-S-transferase (GST), which is particularly effective in detoxifying inhaled tobacco smoke within the lungs.
However, the genes which produce GST are subject to two common defects, one of which is present in around 50% of the population with the other occurring in around 12% of the population.
The researchers found that Scottish children who have either of the two defects in the GST genes are more susceptible to asthma associated with environmental tobacco smoke exposure than those with more intact GST status.
The researchers also found that teenagers with asthma had 15% lower peak flows if they had one of the GST gene defects and were exposed to tobacco smoke, compared to asthmatic teenagers with intact gene status.
"There is a risk that these children and teenagers, naturally unaware of their susceptible status resulting from this gene defect, could be undergoing a silent, long-standing decline in lung function over the years," said Dr Mukhopadhyay.
"This can lead to greater risk of chronic obstructive lung disease, or COPD, in later life."
Scotland has the highest prevalence of teenage asthma in the world. Scots also have the highest death rate in the UK for COPD, a disease that results in numerous hospital admissions and one death every two hours in the Scottish population.
The two defects in the GST genes have defined a high-risk population of young Scottish asthmatics in whom tobacco smoke is particularly harmful. The researchers say early identification of these gene defects, with concurrent strategies targeted at the protection of the high-risk population, may be effective in the long term in reducing the prevalence of asthma in Scotland. At present there is no screening for these gene defects.
The findings of the Dundee team are published in the August 6th, 2006, issue of Pediatrics, the world’s top impact factor journal for children’s medicine and the official mouthpiece for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Roddy Isles | alfa
Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes
15.01.2018 | Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
New method to map miniature brain circuits
15.01.2018 | The Francis Crick Institute
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered a mechanism that amplifies the autoimmune reaction in an early stage of pancreatic islet autoimmunity prior to the progression to clinical type 1 diabetes. If the researchers blocked the corresponding molecules, the immune system was significantly less active. The study was conducted under the auspices of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and was published in the journal ‘Science Translational Medicine’.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence. In this disease, the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the...
15.01.2018 | Event News
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
15.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.01.2018 | Life Sciences
15.01.2018 | Life Sciences