RORA and Asthma, Allergy and Clocks – (Astrocytes and IL-6)

Genome-wide association studies of asthma in population-based cohorts confirm known and suggested loci and identify an additional association near HLA.


Asthma has substantial morbidity and mortality and a strong genetic component, but identification of genetic risk factors is limited by availability of suitable studies.


To test if population-based cohorts with self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma and genome-wide association (GWA) data could be used to validate known associations with asthma and identify novel associations.


The APCAT (Analysis in Population-based Cohorts of Asthma Traits) consortium consists of 1,716 individuals with asthma and 16,888 healthy controls from six European-descent population-based cohorts. We examined associations in APCAT of thirteen variants previously reported as genome-wide significant (P<5 x 10(-8)) and three variants reported as suggestive (P<5× 10(-7)). We also searched for novel associations in APCAT (Stage 1) and followed-up the most promising variants in 4,035 asthmatics and 11,251 healthy controls (Stage 2). Finally, we conducted the first genome-wide screen for interactions with smoking or hay fever.


We observed association in the same direction for all thirteen previously reported variants and nominally replicated ten of them. One variant that was previously suggestive, rs11071559 in RORA, now reaches genome-wide significance when combined with our data (P = 2.4 × 10(-9)). We also identified two genome-wide significant associations: rs13408661 near IL1RL1/IL18R1 (P(Stage1+Stage2) = 1.1×10(-9)), which is correlated with a variant recently shown to be associated with asthma (rs3771180), and rs9268516 in the HLA region (P(Stage1+Stage2) = 1.1×10(-8)), which appears to be independent of previously reported associations in this locus. Finally, we found no strong evidence for gene-environment interactions with smoking or hay fever status.


Population-based cohorts with simple asthma phenotypes represent a valuable and largely untapped resource for genetic studies of asthma.


Type 2 innate lymphoid cells: new players in asthma and allergy.


Two years ago, T helper cells, including Th1, Th2 and Th17 cells, were considered to be the most significant sources of cytokine during the orchestration of immune responses in the lung. Following the discovery of innate lymphoid cells, we now know that these previously unappreciated cytokine-secreting cells, including ILC1 (IFN-γ-expressing NK cells), ILC2 (IL-5 and IL-13-expressing nuocytes) and RORγ ILC (IL-17 and IL-22-expressing ‘ILC3’) are important mediators in immune processes. Herein we review the role of ILC2 specifically in inflammatory lung responses with special attention to allergen-induced and viral-induced type 2 lung disease.


Expression analysis of asthma candidate genes during human and murine lung development.

Retinoic-acid-receptor-related orphan nuclear receptor alpha is required for natural helper cell development and allergic inflammation.

Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in >80 000 subjects identifies multiple loci for C-reactive protein levels.

In vivo endotoxin synchronizes and suppresses clock gene expression in human peripheral blood leukocytes.

“We show that endotoxin causes profound suppression of circadian clock gene expression, clearly manifested in human peripheral blood leukocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes. Clock, Cry1-2, Per3, CSNK1epsilon, Rora, and Rev-erb gene expression were all reduced by 80% to 90% with the nadir between 3 and 6 hrs postinfusion. Per1 and Per2 reached an expression nadir between 13 and 17 hrs postinfusion. The levels of plasma interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor peaked and then returned to baseline within 6 hrs. In contrast, clock gene expression remained suppressed for up to 17 hrs irrespective of the phase of the clock at the time of the endotoxin challenge. Endotoxin did not perturb the melatonin secretory rhythm.


Circadian clock gene expression in peripheral blood leukocytes is dramatically altered and possibly uncoupled from the activity of the central clock during periods of acute systemic inflammation.The realignment of the central and peripheral clocks may constitutea previously unappreciated key factor affecting recovery from disease in humans.


The nuclear receptor ROR(alpha) exerts a bi-directional regulation of IL-6 in resting and reactive astrocytes.


Astrocytes and one of their products, IL-6, not only support neurons but also mediate inflammation in the brain. Retinoid-related orphan receptor-alpha (RORalpha) transcription factor has related roles, being neuro-protective and, in peripheral tissues, anti-inflammatory. We examined the relation of ROR(alpha) to astrocytes and IL-6 using normal and ROR(alpha) loss-of-function mutant mice. We have shown ROR(alpha) expression in astrocytes and its up-regulation by pro-inflammatory cytokines. We have also demonstrated that ROR(alpha) directly trans-activates the Il-6 gene. We suggest that this direct control is necessary to maintain IL-6 basal level in the brain and may be a link between the neuro-supportive roles of ROR(alpha), IL-6, and astrocytes. Furthermore, after inflammatory stimulation, the absence of ROR(alpha) results in excessive IL-6 up-regulation, indicating that ROR(alpha) exerts an indirect repression probably via the inhibition of the NF-kappaB signaling. Thus, our findings indicate that ROR(alpha) is a pluripotent molecular player in constitutive and adaptive astrocyte physiology.

This entry was posted in Allergy, Asthma, Autism, co-morbid, Environment, Genetics, Immune System, Inflammation, Neurology, Physiology, Treatment. Bookmark the permalink.

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