Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. While cigarette smoking is a major cause of COPD, only 15% of smokers develop the disease, indicating major genetic influences. The most widely recognized candidate gene in COPD is SERPINA1, although it has been suggested that SERPINA3 may also play a role. To detect cryptic genetic variants that might contribute to disease, we identified 15 SNP haplotype tags from high-density SNP maps of the two genes and evaluated these SNPs in the largest case-control genetic study of COPD conducted so far. For SERPINA1, six newly identified haplotypes with a common backbone of five SNPs were found to increase the risk of disease by six- to 50-fold, the highest risk of COPD reported to date. In contrast, no haplotype associations for SERPINA3 were identified.
2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.