In a collaborative study by National Taiwan University, China Medical University and Hung Kuang University, researchers found that interleukin-13 (IL-13) may play an important role in aggregate bronchitic symptoms pathogenesis. To assess the independent and joint effects of the exposure to air pollution and IL-13 haplotypes on the risk of aggregate bronchitic symptoms, Prof. Yungling Lee conducted a population-based study (Taiwan Children Health Study, TCHS) with emphasis on 2,994 non-asthma children. The effect of each air pollutant on the risk of aggregate bronchitic symptoms was estimated by odds ratios per interquartile range (IQR) change. In the multi-variable logistic regressions model with adjustment for confounding factors, the risk of chronic phlegm was associated with PM2.5 exposure, O3 exposure, and SO2 exposure. This study further shows a statistically significant gene-environment interaction between IL-13 haplotype and O3 exposure on chronic phlegm. This study has been published online 12 February in EBioMedcine.
The principal investigators of the study are Dr. Yungling Lee and Dr. Bing-Fang Hwang. Dr. Lee is an associate professor at National Taiwan University College of Public Health of and dedicated to genetic epidemiology and molecular epidemiology. Dr. Hwang is a full professor at College of Public Health of China Medical University and has expertise in Geographic Information System and air pollution exposure assessment.
[Photo: Dr. Yungling L. Lee]
Prof Yungling Lee, the first author and the leader of TCHS, pointed out that IL-13 may be a suitable gene to investigate children’s susceptibility to the hazard from air pollution. “Although observational studies were usually limited by measurement errors/biases, our precise personalized measurements, both in genetic and environmental factors, strongly suggest that identifying children who were more vulnerable to air pollution would help provide an efficient strategy to prevent respiratory symptoms,” said Dr. Lee.