Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Asthma

Heterogenous atopic disorder of airways and lungs characterized by reversible inflammatory obstruction, breathing difficulties, wheezing, and hypersensitivity. An autosomal dominant susceptibility region has been identified: cytokine genes are known to regulate IgE production, resulting in various severities of allergic diseases; the IgE adrenergic receptor gene is strongly linked to maternal smoking during pregnancy. The CCR5 co-receptor locus apparently also attenuates the severity of asthma. The trait also exhibits evidence for genomic imprinting. It has been suggested that asthma is found most frequently in individuals with hyperresponsive IgE due to an indigenous parasite load, and who then remove to regions where parasite load is low.

See chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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