Study authors, led by George Leikauf, Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and Holger Schulz, M.D., professor of medicine at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Munich, focused on a gene called superoxide dismutase 3 (SOD3), previously shown to protect the lungs from the effects of asbestos and oxidative stress.
"People lose lung function as they age, so it's important to identify possible genetic targets that control healthy development of the lungs during childhood," said Dr. Leikauf.
Drs. Leikauf, Schulz and colleagues compared SOD3 expression levels in strains of mice with poor lung function to one with more efficient airways and lungs two times the size. As with people, the lungs of mice fully form as they mature to adulthood. The better-functioning strain maintained higher levels of SOD3 – levels in these mice were four times higher at the final stage of lung development. They also found the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, variations in DNA sequences, in SOD3 that were linked to lung function in mice.
The researchers went on to assess SOD3 mutations in children ages 9 to 11 by testing for SNPs linked to lung function. After analyzing DNA from 1,555 children in Munich and Dresden who were part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children, they discovered two common SNPs associated with poorer lung function. One of these SNPs likely alters the expression levels of SOD3. Lung function was tested with spirometry, which measures the amount and speed of exhaled air.
Previously, genetic variants in SOD3 have been associated with loss of lung function in COPD, which is mainly caused by cigarette smoking. "We know SOD3 protects the lung against injury caused by chemicals in cigarette smoke, and it could be a link between childhood exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and poor lung development," said Dr. Leikaf. In the future it might be possible to identify at-risk children and to develop a medication that would foster optimal lung development, he added. The researchers also are exploring sex differences in SOD3 gene expression and lung development, and girls appear to be at greater risk than boys.
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 120,000 deaths annually and costing more than $30 billion per year. It is estimated that more than 16 million Americans have COPD.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the German Research Center for Environmental Health. In addition to Drs. Leikauf and Schulz, study co-authors include Koustav Ganguly, M.D., and Martina Schreiber, M.D., German Research Center for Environmental Health; Martin Depner, M.D., and Erika von Mutius, M.D., Ludwig Maximilian's University, Munich; Cheryl Fattman, M.D., Kifai Bein, M.D., Tim D. Oury, M.D., and Fei Gao, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Scott C. Wesselkamper, M.D., and Michael T. Borchers, M.D., University of Cincinnati; Michael Kabesch, M.D., Hannover Medical School, Germany.
Clare Collins | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > COPD > DNA > DNA sequence > Environmental Health > SNP > SOD3 > SOD3 gene expression > asbestos > chronic obstructive pulmonary disease > environmental risk > genetic variant > mutations > oxidative stress > poor lung function > single nucleotide polymorphisms > stunt lung development
Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy