Background: It has long been recognized that many children with asthma outgrow the disease after the onset of puberty, but little is known about genetic factors influencing this outcome.
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to determine whether the polymorphisms at codons 16 and 27 of the β2-adrenoceptor are significant predictors of the persistence of asthma during adolescence.
Design and participants: We used data from the prospective Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study. Children were genotyped for the polymorphisms at codons 16 and 27. The presence of wheezing/asthma was assessed by questionnaire from age 6 years up to the reported onset of puberty (prepubertal period) and after the onset of puberty up to age 16 years (adolescence).
Results: Among children who wheezed in the prepubertal period (n = 168), subjects homozygous for Gly at codon 16 were at significantly increased risk for persistent wheezing after puberty, as compared with carriers of the other genotypes (relative risk [RR], 1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 1.92; p = 0.019). This relation was present among boys (RR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.41 to 3.36) but not girls (RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.55 to 1.30), and increased linearly according to the frequency of wheezing episodes after the onset of puberty. These findings persisted after adjusting for ethnicity and other potential confounders and after selecting only white children. The polymorphism at codon 27 showed no relation with risk for persistent wheezing.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence for a strong gender-specific effect of the Gly16 polymorphism on the persistence of asthma after the onset of puberty.