Background: A genome-wide association study uncovered Chitinase 3 like 1 (CHI3L1) as a candidate gene for asthma susceptibility. CHI3L1, which encodes the YKL-40 protein, is associated with asthma in Western European and American populations and with atopy in a Korean population. However, asthma-associated polymorphisms remain unknown for a Taiwanese population.
Methods: We enrolled 628 adult asthmatic patients and 1:1 age-sex matched community-based controls in southern Taiwan and performed a combined effect sizes analysis to test if CHI3L1 polymorphisms were related to genetic risks for asthma in the Asian population. Ten tagSNP polymorphisms for the CHI3L1 gene were selected from the HapMap database and genotyped using a TaqMan allelic discrimination assay.
Results: Adjusted odds ratios of the CHI3L1 rs1538372 CC genotype (aOR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.23-3.14) and the rs10399931 GG genotype (aOR = 1.77, 95% CI: 1.13-2.77) were significantly associated with asthma in the Taiwanese populations. Predictive values of forced expiratory volume in the first second of the forced vital capacity (12.37%, P = 0.03) and of forced vital capacity (12.10%, P = 0.036) decreased in conjunction with an increase in YKL-40 levels among CHI3L1 rs1538372 CC carriers; these values were 16.1% (P = 0.004) and 14.5% (P = 0.011), respectively, among CHI3L1 rs10399931 GG carriers. Furthermore, steroid use by asthma patients did not affect serum YKL-40 levels, but both polymorphisms had significant effects on YKL-40 levels in asthma patients who used steroids.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the CHI3L1 polymorphisms rs1538372 and rs10399931 can be used as genetic markers for predicting asthma risk in the Taiwanese population.