UCSF

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 aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.