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Alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and tobacco smoke exposure: Effects on bronchial hyperresponsiveness in children


  • The study was performed within ORAACLE (the Oslo Research Group of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood; the lung and environment), a member of the GA2LEN (Global Asthma and Allergy European Network) and GAIN (Genetics of Asthma International Network).

  • Sponsors for the ECA study was initially the Norwegian Research Council, and later the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation, Eastern Regional Health Authority, the Norwegian association of asthma and allergy, the Kloster foundation, Voksentoppen BKL, AstraZeneca, and Phadia. The GAIN study was sponsored by Glaxo-Smith-Kline.

Tale M. Torjussen, Epilepsisenteret – SSE, Postboks 53, 1306 Bærum Postterminal, Norway.
Tel.: +47 67501000
Fax: +47 67540496


To cite this article: Torjussen TM, Lødrup Carlsen KC, Munthe-Kaas MC, Mowinckel P, Carlsen K-H, Helms PJ, Gerritsen J, Whyte MK, Lenney W, Undlien DE, Shianna KV, Zhu G, Pillai SG. Alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and tobacco smoke exposure: Effects on bronchial hyperresponsiveness in children. Pediatric Allergy Immunology 2012: 23: 40–49.


Background:  The CHRNA 3 and 5 genes on chromosome 15 encode the alpha subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, mediating airway cholinergic activity. Polymorphisms are associated with cigarette smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.

Aims:  To determine possible associations between CHRNA 3/5 SNP rs8034191 and asthma or lung function in children in one local and one replicate multinational population, and assess if tobacco smoke modified the associations.

Materials and methods:  The rs8034191 SNP genotyped in 551 children from the environment and childhood asthma (ECA) birth cohort study in Oslo, Norway, and in 516 families from six European centers [the Genetics of Asthma International Network (GAIN) study] was tested for genotypic or allelic associations to current or history of asthma, allergic sensitization (≥ one positive skin prick tests), bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), and lung function (FEV1% of predicted and FEV1/FVC ratio over/ below the 5th percentile).

Results:  Although the TT and CT genotypes at SNP rs 8034191 were overall significantly associated with BHR (OR = 3.9, 95% CI 1.5–10.0, p = 0.005), stratified analyses according to exposure to maternal smoking in-utero or indoor smoking at 10 yrs of age showed significant association (OR = 4.4, 95% CI 1.5–12.6, p = 0.006 and OR 5.6, 95% CI 1.7–18.5, p = 0.004, respectively) only in the non-exposed and not in exposed children. The SNP–BHR association was replicated in the non-tobacco-smoke-exposed subjects in one of the GAIN centers (BHR associated with the T allele (p = 0.034)), but not in the collated GAIN populations. Asthma, allergic sensitization, and lung function were not associated with the rs8034191 alleles.

Conclusion:  An interaction between tobacco smoke exposure and a CHRNA3/5 polymorphism was found for BHR in children, but CHRNA3/5 was not associated with asthma or lung function.