How African-Americans respond to asthma medication is not affected by their genetic ancestry, reports a study at Henry Ford Hospital.
Researchers found that improved lung function in patients after taking inhaled steroids was related to a series of baseline breathing function measures, not genetic ancestry.
Advances in genetics have led to the development of ancestry markers spread across the human genome, which allow genetic ancestry to be easily and inexpensively estimated among African Americans.
"However, our study found that genetic differences due to ancestry probably contributed to little, if any, difference in how African Americans responded to inhaled corticosteroids," said Dr. Wendy Gould, the study's lead author.
African Americans appear to be especially prone to asthma and its complications, which result in more frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations when compared with white individuals.
Because of that susceptibility, Henry Ford researchers set out to determine what role, if any, genetic ancestry plays in how well African Americans respond to inhaled corticosteroids, which is considered the most effective class of medication for controlling asthma.
Researchers followed 147 African-American asthma patients aged 12-56 who were treated with inhaled steroids for six weeks.
Their breathing function was tested before and after the six-week treatment protocol. Genetic testing was done on DNA isolated from a single blood sample.
"This is one of the first studies to use genetic ancestry to help clarify whether response to medication differs from race or ethnic groups. Fortunately, our results suggest that this potentially life-saving asthma medication is equally beneficial across groups," said Dr. Keoki Williams, the study's senior author.
The study is published online at the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.