Genetics of Asthma and Obesity in Latino youth

Asthma and obesity are leading public health concerns that disporportionately affect low income and minority children. Epidemiologic studies have consistently shown an association between asthma and obesity, although the causal relationship of this association remains unclear. Among all U.S. populations, asthma prevelance is highest in Puerto Ricans and lowest in Mexican Americans.  Obesity is high in both populations.  Obese asthma may be a unique phenotype of asthma, with a more difficult clinical course and altered response to asthma control therapy. 

This project is led by Esteban González Burchard, MD, MPH, an outstanding NIH-funded investigator who has performed the largest admixture mapping scan of asthma and obesity in the US. In their prior work Dr. Burchard and colleagues have demonstrated that there are significant socio-economic and genetic interactions that influence risk of asthma. In preliminary work for CHARM Dr. Burchard and his colleagues found that 3 of the admixture mapping peaks (differences in ancestry between cases and controls) were associated with both asthma and BMI, suggesting that there are multiple variants in these regions that contribute to both asthma and obesity in Latino populations.

Evidence exists for shared genetic effects between asthma and obesity, but prior investigations have

  • largely focused on older populations
  • have not considered the impact of childhood events and exposures on the emergence of asthma and obesity
  • and have not focused on minority youth

This comprehensive study of childhood asthma and obesity will help uncover the contributions of genetics, socio-demographic, and early-life events to the co-occurrence of asthma and obesity.

This project will investigate genes by analyzing the overlapping and differential gene expression patterns on asthma-related outcomes. Participants in this study are Latino youth from throughout the US. Results of this study will inform interventions to target obesity in the management of asthma and will be implemented in the San Francisco General Hospital pediatric asthma clinic that enrolled participants in this study.

Visit the Burchard Lab's webpage for more information on the genetics of Asthma


Created by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC, on display for two years and available to all public high schools in the U.S., the Genes and Health--Moving Beyond Race video features CHARM investigator Esteban Burchard's lab.