Transcriptomics of atopy and atopic asthma in white blood cells from children and adolescents

Eur Respir J. 2019 May 18;53(5):1900102. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00102-2019. Print 2019 May.


Early allergic sensitisation (atopy) is the first step in the development of allergic diseases such as atopic asthma later in life. Genes and pathways associated with atopy and atopic asthma in children and adolescents have not been well characterised.A transcriptome-wide association study (TWAS) of atopy and atopic asthma in white blood cells (WBCs) or whole blood was conducted in a cohort of 460 Puerto Ricans aged 9-20 years (EVA-PR study) and in a cohort of 250 Swedish adolescents (BAMSE study). Pathway enrichment and network analyses were conducted to further assess top findings, and classification models of atopy and atopic asthma were built using expression levels for the top differentially expressed genes (DEGs).In a meta-analysis of the study cohorts, both previously implicated genes (e.g. IL5RA and IL1RL1) and genes not previously reported in TWASs (novel) were significantly associated with atopy and/or atopic asthma. Top novel genes for atopy included SIGLEC8 (p=8.07×10-13), SLC29A1 (p=7.07×10-12) and SMPD3 (p=1.48×10-11). Expression quantitative trait locus analyses identified multiple asthma-relevant genotype-expression pairs, such as rs2255888/ALOX15 Pathway enrichment analysis uncovered 16 significantly enriched pathways at adjusted p<0.01, including those relevant to T-helper cell type 1 (Th1) and Th2 immune responses. Classification models built using the top DEGs and a few demographic/parental history variables accurately differentiated subjects with atopic asthma from nonatopic control subjects (area under the curve 0.84).We have identified genes and pathways for atopy and atopic asthma in children and adolescents, using transcriptome-wide data from WBCs and whole blood samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Arachidonate 15-Lipoxygenase / genetics
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter 1 / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Lectins / genetics
  • Leukocytes*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / genetics
  • Transcriptome*
  • Young Adult


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter 1
  • Lectins
  • SIGLEC8 protein, human
  • SLC29A1 protein, human
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • ALOX15 protein, human
  • Arachidonate 15-Lipoxygenase
  • SMPD3 protein, human
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase