Background Mast cell chymase has the potential to be an important mediator of inflammation and remodelling in the asthmatic lung. Previous studies have examined association between promoter polymorphism of the chymase gene (CMA1) and allergic phenotypes but the significance of this polymorphism is unclear. We have examined association of a CMA1 variant in relation to asthma in a large UK Caucasian family cohort.
Methods A polymorphism of the CMA1 gene promoter (−1903G/A) was genotyped in 341 asthmatic families and in 184 non-asthmatic adults recruited from the UK PCR-RFLP based genotyping. Association with asthma diagnosis, atopy, specific and total IgE, and atopy and asthma severity was examined.
Results Case–control studies did not reveal a significant difference in allele frequency between asthmatics and controls. A significant association was found between CMA1 genotypes and total IgE levels in subjects with self-reported eczema that remained significant after correction for multiple testing (median total serum IgE GG 297 kU/L, GA 144 kU/L, AA 48.4 kU/L, Pc=0.0032).
Conclusion These data suggest that CMA1 promoter polymorphism does not contribute to asthma susceptibility or severity but may be involved in regulating IgE levels in patients with eczema.