Background Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is induced in airways by virus and may mediate asthmatic airway remodeling. We sought to evaluate if genetic variants and early life lower respiratory infections jointly affect asthma risk.
Methods We included Latino children, adolescents, and young adults aged 8–21 years (1736 subjects with physician-diagnosed asthma and 1747 healthy controls) from five U.S. centers and Puerto Rico after excluding subjects with incomplete clinical or genetic data. We evaluated the independent and joint effects of a PAI-1 gain of function polymorphism and bronchiolitis / Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) or other lower respiratory infections (LRI) within the first 2 years of life on asthma risk, asthma exacerbations and lung function.
Results RSV infection (OR 9.9, 95%CI 4.9–20.2) and other LRI (OR 9.1, 95%CI 7.2–11.5) were independently associated with asthma, but PAI-1 genotype was not. There were joint effects on asthma risk for both genotype-RSV (OR 17.7, 95% CI 6.3–50.2) and genotype- LRI (OR 11.7, 95% CI 8.8–16.4). A joint effect of genotype-RSV resulted in a 3.1-fold increased risk for recurrent asthma hospitalizations. In genotype-respiratory infection joint effect analysis, FEV1% predicted and FEV1/FVC %predicted were further reduced in the genotype-LRI group (β -2.1, 95% CI -4.0 to -0.2; β -2.0, 95% CI -3.1 to -0.8 respectively). Similarly, lower FEV1%predicted was noted in genotype-RSV group (β -3.1, 95% CI -6.1 to -0.2) with a trend for lower FEV1/FVC %predicted.
Conclusions A genetic variant of PAI-1 together with early life LRI such as RSV bronchiolitis is associated with an increased risk of asthma, morbidity, and reduced lung function in this Latino population.