Objectives: Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen (CTLA)-4 is a homolog of CD28, which is expressed only on activated T cells. It binds to accessory molecule B7 and mediates T-cell-dependent immune response. Signaling through CTLA-4 may down-regulate type 1 T-helper cell proliferation; moreover, some studies suggest that CTLA-4 might also deliver a positive signal to type 2 T-helper cell activation. Disruption of this delicate balance of immune regulation may lead to autoimmune diseases or atopic diseases. To evaluate the possible role of CTLA-4 polymorphisms in bronchial asthma, we investigated the association between polymorphisms (exon 1 +49 A/G, promoter −318 C/T) and atopy, asthma severity, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in bronchial asthma patients and a group of healthy control subjects.
Patients: Eighty-eight asthmatic patients and 88 healthy control subjects were studied.
Measurements and results: Asthma severity assessment, methacholine challenge, allergy skinprick test, and serum total IgE measurements were performed. The genotypes of the CTLA-4 promoter (−318 C/T) and exon 1 (+49 A/G) in all subjects were determined using the polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism. The CTLA-4 promoter (−318 C/T) polymorphism was shown to be associated with asthma severity, but not with asthma, atopy, or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. A significant association was found between severe asthma and the T allele (p = 0.037). The CTLA-4 exon 1 (+49 A/G) polymorphism was shown to be associated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness, but not with asthma, atopy, or asthma severity. Asthmatic patients of the GG genotype had more hyperresponsive airways than those with the AG or AA genotype (p = 0.019).
Conclusions: The CTLA-4 promoter (−318 C/T) T allele may serve as a clinically useful marker of severe asthma. The CTLA-4 exon 1 (+49 A/G) polymorphism may have a disease-modifying effect in asthmatic airways.