The lung: the natural boundary between nature and nurture

Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:457-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-012110-142212.


Common lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, and pulmonary fibrosis cause significant morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and worldwide. Research investigating the mechanisms of disease etiology has clearly indicated that genetic attributes and environmental exposures each play important roles in the development of these diseases. Emerging evidence underscores the importance of the interplay between genetic predisposition and environmental factors in fully understanding the development of lung disease. Herein we discuss recent advances in knowledge and technology surrounding the role of genetics, the environment, and gene-environment interactions in these common lung diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Epigenomics
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / genetics
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / genetics
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology


  • Environmental Pollutants