The pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics of asthma therapy

Pharmacogenomics J. 2011 Dec;11(6):383-92. doi: 10.1038/tpj.2011.46. Epub 2011 Oct 11.


Despite the availability of several classes of asthma medications and their overall effectiveness, a significant portion of patients fail to respond to these therapeutic agents. Evidence suggests that genetic factors may partly mediate the heterogeneity in asthma treatment response. This review discusses important findings in asthma pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic studies conducted to date, examines limitations of these studies and, finally, proposes future research directions in this field. The focus will be on the three major classes of asthma medications: β-adrenergic receptor agonists, inhaled corticosteroids and leukotriene modifiers. Although many studies are limited by small sample sizes and replication of the findings is needed, several candidate genes have been identified. High-throughput technologies are also allowing for large-scale genetic investigations. Thus, the future is promising for a personalized treatment of asthma, which will improve therapeutic outcomes, minimize side effects and lead to a more cost-effective care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Pharmacogenetics*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Leukotriene Antagonists