Environmental and genetic risk factors and gene-environment interactions in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive lung disease
Gottlieb, D. J.
O'Connor, G. T.
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CitationWalter, R, D J Gottlieb, G T O'Connor. "Environmental and Genetic Risk Factors and Gene-environment Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease." Environmental Health Perspectives 108(Suppl 4): 733-742. (2000)
Current understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a source of substantial morbidity and mortality in the United States, suggests that chronic inflammation leads to the airways obstruction and parenchymal destruction that characterize this condition. Environmental factors, especially tobacco smoke exposure, are known to accelerate longitudinal decline of lung function, and there is substantial evidence that upregulation of inflammatory pathways plays a vital role in this process. Genetic regulation of both inflammatory responses and anti-inflammatory protective mechanisms likely underlies the heritability of COPD observed in family studies. In alpha-1 protease inhibitor deficiency, the only genetic disorder known to cause COPD, lack of inhibition of elastase activity, results in the parenchymal destruction of emphysema. Other genetic polymorphisms have been hypothesized to alter the risk of COPD but have not been established as causes of this condition. It is likely that multiple genetic factors interacting with each other and with a number of environmental agents will be found to result in the development of COPD.