Trajectory To Childhood Asthma Begins At Birth Interview with:

Donata Vercelli, MD Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Arizona Director, Arizona Center for the Biology of Complex Diseases Associate Director, Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center The BIO5 Institute, Rm. 339 Tucson, AZ 85721

Dr. Donata Vercelli

Donata Vercelli, MD
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Director, Arizona Center for the Biology of Complex Diseases
Director, Molecular Genomics, Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center
The University of Arizona The BIO5 Institute
Tucson, AZ 85721 What is the background for this study?

Response: Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Epidemiological evidence suggests that the disease often begins during the pre-school years even when chronic symptoms appear much later in life. However, firm criteria to pinpoint how early a child’s trajectory to asthma truly begins are currently lacking. The mechanisms underlying asthma inception also remain largely unknown. Although epigenetic mechanisms likely contribute to asthma pathogenesis, little is known about their role in asthma inception. What are the main findings?

Response: Neonatal immune cells harbored 589 differentially methylated regions that distinguished children who did and did not develop asthma by age 9. In three distinct cohorts, SMAD3 methylation was selectively increased in asthmatic children of asthmatic mothers and was associated with childhood asthma risk. Moreover, SMAD3 methylation in neonates with maternal asthma was strongly and positively associated with neonatal production of IL-1beta, an innate inflammatory mediator. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We show for the first time that the trajectory to childhood asthma begins at birth and involves epigenetic modifications in immunoregulatory and pro-inflammatory pathways. Maternal asthma influences epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the inception of this trajectory. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It will be essential to study how the prenatal maternal environment influences the development of neonatal epigenetic signatures associated with childhood asthma. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Epigenome-wide Analysis Links SMAD3 Methylation at Birth to Asthma in Children of Asthmatic Mothers
DeVries, Avery et al.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
December 21, 2016

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Last Updated on January 4, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD