Genetic-environmental interactions in chronic airways obstruction

Int J Epidemiol. 1986 Mar;15(1):65-72. doi: 10.1093/ije/15.1.65.


To examine patterns of interaction between cigarette smoking and genetic factors in relation to airways obstruction, cross sectional data were analysed on 1787 white non-patient adult participants in a genetic-epidemiological study of airways obstruction (AO), defined as one-second forced expiratory volume FEV1 less than 68% of forced vital capacity FVC. Interaction was examined between smoking and each of four factors previously found to be related to AO: alpha-1 antitrypsin (PiZ allele), ABO blood groups (A antigen), ABH non-secretor status, and first degree relationship to a COPD or lung cancer patient. Multiple linear regression was used to test for interaction and adjust mean FEV1 (as a per cent of FVC) and prevalence of AO for age, sex, socioeconomic status, coffee and alcohol intake. Statistical interaction was observed between smoking (measured in pack-years) and two genetic factors (presence of blood A antigen and the family history). At higher pack-year levels, those individuals with the A antigen or the family history, but especially those with both factors had a much lower mean FEV1/FVC % and a much higher prevalence of AO than expected based on a simple additive model. On the other hand, there was no interaction between smoking and PiZ allele, or smoking and ABH secretor status. The findings suggest a possible biological interaction between cigarette smoke and the airways of individuals with blood group A antigen and familial lung disease. The findings also emphasize the role of genetic-environmental interactions in chronic diseases of multifactorial aetiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Risk
  • Smoking*
  • Vital Capacity
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / analysis


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin