THURSDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Living in a home with high
levels of mold may increase the risk of severe asthma attacks in
people with certain gene variants, finds a new study.
"We found that the interaction between environmental mold exposure and certain variants of chitinase genes were positively associated with severe asthma exacerbations requiring hospitalization," lead researcher Ann Wu, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, said in an American Thoracic Society news release.
Chitinases, which break down a component in fungi called chitin,
are induced during allergic inflammation. It's known that people
with asthma have higher expression of certain variants of
In this study, Wu and colleagues analyzed data from the
Childhood Asthma Management Program, a trial that enrolled children
between the ages of 5 and 12 with mild to moderate persistent
asthma. The children's homes were classified as having more or less
than 25,000 mold colonies per gram of household dust. A level
greater than 25,000 is considered high for a home.
The researchers also conducted genetic tests on blood samples
taken from the children. They concluded that certain variants of
the chitinase gene CHIT1, along with exposure to high levels of
mold, are associated with an increased risk of severe asthma
The study, published online June 24 and in an upcoming print
issue of the
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, suggests that chitinases may offer a target for new types of asthma treatments.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more