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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • genetics;
  • Hispanic;
  • Latino

Abstract

The US Latino population is heterogeneous with diversity in environmental exposures and socioeconomic status. Moreover, the US Hispanic population derives from numerous countries previously under Spanish rule, and many Hispanics have complex proportions of European, Native American, and African ancestry. Disparities in asthma severity and control are due to complex interactions between environmental exposures, socioeconomic factors, and genetic variations. In addition, diseases within the Latino community may also differ by country of origin. Although US Census data show low asthma rates in the Hispanic population as a whole, there is a lot of variability in the prevalence and morbidity of asthma, with a prevalence of 5.0% in Mexican Americans versus 17.0% in Puerto Ricans. The diversity and population admixture make the study of the genetics of asthma complex in Latino populations. However, an understanding of the genetics of asthma in all populations, including the Latino population, can enhance risk identification, help us to target pharmacological therapy, and guide environmental regulations, all of which can promote a reduction in health disparities. The inclusion of markers of ancestral diversity and the incorporation of techniques to adjust for stratification now make these studies feasible in complex populations, including the Latino population. To date, studies using linkage analyses, genome-wide associations, or candidate gene analyses have identified an association of asthma or asthma-related phenotypes with candidate genes, including interleukin 13, β-2 adrenergic receptor, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase 33, orosomucoid 1-like 3, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin. As reviewed here, although these genes have been identified in diverse populations, limited studies have been performed in Latino populations, and they have had variable replication. There is a need for the development of registries with well-phenotyped pediatric and adult Latino populations and subgroups for inclusion in the rapidly expanding field of genetic studies, and these studies need to be used to reduce health disparities. Mt Sinai J Med 77:140–148, 2010. © 2010 Mount Sinai School of Medicine