Air pollution, tobacco smoke, & asthma in minority children
Initial Award Abstract
African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected by asthma, a complex disease caused by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Although much is known about the separate effects of air pollution and cigarette smoke on asthma and asthma attacks, what remains to be determined is whether combined exposures to tobacco smoke and air pollution have greater effects on asthma risk and morbidity than what would be expected based on the individual exposures (i.e., interaction effects).
We hypothesize that the combined effect of exposure to tobacco smoke and air pollution will be more detrimental to asthma risk and morbidity than what would be expected based on the individual exposures. We further hypothesize that these environment-by-environment interaction effects will be manifest as epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation).
We will examine the interaction effects of air pollution and tobacco smoke exposure on asthma outcomes at two time points: early-life (pregnancy through first two years of life) and recent (exposures within the past year). We will also examine the DNA for evidence of whether these interaction effects leave genetic “fingerprints” on children, and how these fingerprints relate to asthma and asthma attacks among African American and Latino children.
Our goal is to determine how tobacco smoke and air pollution exposures affect asthma and asthma attacks in minority populations, which may lead to more targeted therapies. Our results will inform public health policy and clinical practice.