Toll-like Receptor 4 Pathway Polymorphisms Interact with Pollution to Influence Asthma Diagnosis and Severity

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 23;8(1):12713. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30865-0.


Asthma is a common chronic lung disease, the incidence and severity of which may be influenced by gene-environment interactions. Our objective was to examine associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and combinations of SNPs in the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway, residential distance to roadway as a proxy for traffic-related air pollution exposure, and asthma diagnosis and exacerbations. We obtained individual-level data on genotype, residential address, and asthma diagnosis and exacerbations from the Environmental Polymorphisms Registry. Subjects (n = 2,704) were divided into three groups (hyper-responders, hypo-responders, and neither) based on SNP combinations in genes along the TLR4 pathway. We geocoded subjects and calculated distance, classified as <250 m or ≥250 m, between residence and nearest major road. Relationships between genotype, distance to road, and odds of asthma diagnosis and exacerbations were examined using logistic regression. Odds of an asthma diagnosis among hyper-responders <250 m from a major road was 2.37(0.97, 6.01) compared to the reference group (p < 0.10). Hypo-responders ≥250 m from the nearest road had lower odds of activity limitations (0.46 [0.21, 0.95]) and sleeplessness (0.36 [0.12, 0.91]) compared to neither-responders (p < 0.05). Specific genotype combinations when combined with an individual's proximity to roadways, possibly due to traffic-related air pollution exposure, may affect the likelihood of asthma diagnosis and exacerbations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4