Histamine is an important mediator in the pathogenesis of asthma. Variation in genes along the histamine production, response, and degradation pathway may be important in predicting response to antihistamines. We hypothesize that differences exist among single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes of the histamine pathway between children with allergic versus nonallergic asthma. Children (7-18 yr of age; n = 202) with asthma were classified as allergic or nonallergic based on allergy skin testing. Genotyping was performed to detect known SNPs (n = 10) among genes (HDC, HNMT, ABP1, HRH1, and HRH4) within the histamine pathway. Chi square tests and Cochran-Armitage Trend were used to identify associations between genetic variants and allergic or nonallergic asthma. Significance was determined by P < 0.05 and false-positive report probability. After correction for race differences in genotype were observed, HRH1-17 TT (6% allergic versus 0% nonallergic; P = 0.04), HNMT-464 TT (41% allergic versus 29% nonallergic; P = 0.04), and HNMT-1639 TT (30% allergic versus 20% nonallergic; P = 0.04) were overrepresented among children with allergic asthma. Genotype differences specifically among the African-American children were also observed: HRH1-17 TT (13% allergic versus 0% nonallergic; P = 0.04) and HNMT-1639 TT (23% allergic versus 3% nonallergic; P = 0.03) genotypes were overrepresented among African-American children with allergic asthma. Our study suggests that genetic variation within the histamine pathway may be associated with an allergic versus nonallergic asthma phenotype. Further studies are needed to determine the functional significance of identified SNPs and their impact on antihistamine response in patients with asthma and allergic disease.
Keywords: asthma; genetics; histamine.