The gasdermin B gene may increase cell death and inflammation in the airways associated with asthma.
Researchers have recently discovered that a gene may be able to reduce the risk of asthma and also play a role in disease progression. These findings could pave the way for new treatments for the chronic lung condition, according to a study published by The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Specifically, the study authors discovered a link between the gasdermin B (GSDMB) gene and asthma. This gene was observed to be highly-expressed in epithelial cells in the airway.
When GSDMB is activated, it induced pyroptosis, a type of cell death linked to inflammation and asthma progression, according to the study.
Importantly, the authors found that a gene variant may protect against pyroptosis and reduce the risk of asthma.
“Our findings represent important advances in the field of asthma,” said senior author Quan Lu. “Identifying asthma genes and elucidating the disease’s biology are essential steps toward developing new, more effective therapies.”
Approximately 8% of Americans have asthma, with treatment costs reaching more than $50 million annually, according to the authors. Despite the prevalence of asthma, the molecular mechanisms of the condition have been largely unknown.
Previous analyses identified a region—the 17q21 locus—that contains at least 6 genes and is linked to asthma. A majority of researchers hypothesized that the ORMDL3 gene would be involved with the risk of asthma; however, the new study revealed that the GSDMB gene played a role.
The authors evaluated DNA from more than 50,000 adults with asthma who participated in the Genetic Epidemiology Research in Adult Health and Aging study. They analyzed genetic variants in the 17q21 locus that are able to modify protein coding.
The researchers pinpointed GSDMB through combining genetic association analysis and mechanistic studies.
This discovery is crucial for developing asthma treatments that target GSDMB. The authors noted that for certain patients, suppressing GSDMB could prevent airway epithelial pyroptosis and lower the risk of asthma, the study concluded.