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Your Environment. Your Health.

Glutathione Variant Linked to Lung Function Growth

Frank D. Gilliand, M.D., Ph.D., and William J. Gauderman, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
NIEHS Grants P01ES009581, P01ES011627, and P30ES007048

Scientists at the University of Southern California report that variations in one of four genes in the glutathione metabolism pathway is associated with differences in susceptibility to adverse effects of air pollutants on lung function growth. Glutathione is the most abundant intracellular antioxidant. It is an important defense mechanism in the lung in response to oxidative air pollutants and inflammation.

The gene, known as GSS, codes for glutathione synthetase. Polymorphisms in this gene and others in the pathway have been shown to be associated with reductions in lung function. Variation in GSS was found in 48 percent of the study population of 2,106 children from 12 Southern California cities.

The study results demonstrate that children with GSS variation were differentially susceptible to lung function growth deficits associated with air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, elemental carbon, organic carbon, and ozone. The authors conclude that these findings place added emphasis on the identification of strategies for reducing levels of urban air pollutants for susceptible populations.

Citation: Breton CV, Salam MT, Vora H, Gauderman WJ, Gilliland FD. Genetic variation in the glutathione synthesis pathway, air pollution, and children's lung function growth. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Jan 15;183(2):243-8.

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