Burchard study finds Latino asthma risk varies with genetic ancestry

A new analysis of nearly 5,500 Latino children with and without asthma led by School scientists has found that variations in their genetic ancestry can partially explain major differences in their risk of developing the disease.

While U.S. Latinos are classified as a single ethnic group, their genetics share varying proportions of African, European, and/or Native American ancestry. Latinos also experience major disparities in asthma prevalence, with Puerto Ricans experiencing the highest rates (18.4 percent) while Mexican Americans experience the lowest (4.8 percent).

The new study, published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on October 6, 2014, analyzed genetic data from three studies. Researchers found that greater African ancestry (in 20 percent increments) was associated with increased odds of developing asthma, while increased Native American ancestry was linked with lower risk.

The study also analyzed genetic ancestry and lung function in Latino children in a School-led multi-center study—Gene-environments and Admixture in Latino Americans (GALA II)—and found that greater African ancestry was associated with lower lung function.

The new study was lead-authored by Maria Pino-Yanes, PhD, a post-doctoral scholar in the laboratory of senior author Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH. Burchard is a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department of the UCSF Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine.

More: Asthma Risk Varies with Ethnic Ancestry Among Latinos, UCSF Team Finds

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.