Genetics, epigenetics and the exposomeHot topicsChairs:
Torben Sigsgaard (Århus, Denmark), Ian M. Adcock (London, United Kingdom)Aims:
It has become clear that genetics do not explain all of the inheritance associated with asthma and COPD, and that environmental exposures such as cigarette smoking and air pollution can affect susceptibility to and severity of airways disease. The effects of environmental exposures occur at various stages of development, including the perinatal period, childhood, and adulthood. One factor that links these seemingly disparate observations is epigenetics. Epigenetic mechanisms contribute to gene regulation and may mediate associations between SNPs and disease: this has been observed in different types of studies that focus on genetic susceptibility for specific exposures. The measurement of environmental exposures in genetic and epigenetic studies has shifted from standardised methodology to exposomics. Exposomics aims to measure the totality of exposures that are received by a person during his or her lifetime. Thus, it offers an unbiased approach for investigating the environmental causes of chronic diseases like asthma and COPD. The concept and applicability of (studies on) interactions between genetics, epigenetics, and exposomics will be the subject of this hot topic. Examples of integrating multiple layers of biological data in relation to respiratory disease will be shown.