Exposing Yourself to Asthma

Filaggrin mutation linked to increased asthma risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Skin acts as a barrier to environmental exposure and may play a role in asthma. A possible protein mutation may increase exposure to irritants leading to asthma development.

A protein mutation may mean more exposure to environmental irritants through the skin. Smoke and air pollution could pass through the skin, increasing the risk of developing asthma.

The mutation could be another risk factor to consider when dealing with asthma.

"Ask your doctor about ways to reduce environmental irritant exposure."

The filaggrin mutation study involved 3,471 adults and was led by Nikolaj Drimer Berg, M.Sc., Ph.D., from the Research Centre for Prevention and Health at Glostrup University Hospital in Denmark. Filaggrin is a protein found in skin cells. This mutation could lead to more environmental irritants passing through the skin and increasing the risk of developing asthma.

A filaggrin mutation has been linked to an increased risk of developing skin diseases such as ichthyosis vulgaris, severe dry skin, and eczema. Since it affects the skin, normal environmental irritants that people are exposed to could pass through the skin, increasing the amount of smoke or pollution a person is exposed to.

Researchers gave the 3,471 participants a health exam that measured lung function and inhalant allergen sensitivity. Asthma information and smoking habits were also obtained. The researchers also looked for two common filaggrin mutations.

Subjects who had the filaggrin mutations had lower Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV), which measures lung function by the amount of air exhaled, scores and a higher occurrence of asthma than subjects who did not have the filaggrin mutation. The filaggrin mutation was also linked to higher asthma rates in smokers. The researchers also noticed an association between the filaggrin mutation, asthma and smoking.

Future studies could examine how prevalent the filaggrin mutation is in asthma sufferers. Additional studies could determine if treating the filaggrin mutation could decrease the risk of developing asthma.

Smoke or air pollution exposure which could increase the risk of developing asthma may mean more than just breathing it in. A filaggrin mutation could increase irritant exposure through the skin, increasing the chance of developing asthma.

No funding information was published. No author conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the February edition of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 13, 2012
Last Updated:
February 13, 2012