It has been well established that genetic factors strongly affect susceptibility to asthma and its associated traits. It is less clear to what extent genetic variation contributes to the ethnic disparities observed for asthmamorbidity andmortality. Individuals of African descent with asthma have more severe asthma, higher IgE levels, a higher degree of steroid dependency, and more severe clinical symptoms than individuals of European descent with asthma but relatively few studies have focused on this particularly vulnerable ethnic group. Similar underrepresentation exists for other minorities, including Hispanics. In this review, a summary of linkage and association studies in populations of African descent is presented, and the role of linkage disequilibrium in the dissection of a complex trait such as asthma is discussed. Consideration for the impact of population stratification in recently admixed populations (i.e., European, African) is essential in genetic association studies focusing on African ancestry groups. With the most recent update on the International HapMap Project, efficient selection of haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) for African Americans has accelerated and efficiency of htSNPs chosen from one population to represent other continental groups (e.g., African) has been demonstrated. Cutting-edge approaches, such as genomewide association studies, admixture mapping, and phylogenetic analyses, offer new opportunities for dissecting the genetic basis for asthma in populations of African descent.
- African descent
- Genetic epidemiology
- Linkage disequilibrium
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine