Peru - Role of micronutrient deficiencies in asthma.
Ambient air pollution is an important contributor to pulmonary disease in densely populated urban areas worldwide. Asthma incidence is increasing in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America, which has the youngest and fastest growing population of the American hemisphere. Recent publications from in vitro and animal studies, as well as some population studies, strongly suggest that traffic-related ambient air pollution may result in a reprogramming of the epigenome, as part of the environmental stress response against reactive-oxygen-species-mediated activation of the oxidative stress pathway. Micronutrients deficiencies (i.e., vitamin D and folate) are also known to affect both asthma prevalence and severity. The mechanisms underlying the effects of environmental exposures and micronutrient deficiencies on asthma are unclear but are likely to involve epigenetics. This project provides a unique opportunity to examine the interaction effects of ambient pollution and micronutrient levels on asthmatic children from Peru, a population with one of the highest prevalences of asthma in the world, which is truly unique. Our integrated, multidisciplinary design will also provide us with the opportunity to study the relationship between micronutrient deficiencies and epigenetics. Finally, we expect the results of our study will contribute to the improvement of the health of children with asthma. By providing a more accurate and specific assessment of the role micronutrients contribute to asthma induced by air pollution, we can better assess which patients would benefit from supplementation. This proposal seeks to study interaction effects between micronutrients and 1) particulate matter, and 2) epigenetic programming on longitudinal asthma symptoms.
Global Health Mentor: William Checkley, MD
Medical Director, Johns Hopkins Medicine International