Key points

  • While some diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, are almost wholly genetic, genetic factors play a role in making us more or less vulnerable to the whole spectrum of respiratory disease.
  • The search for genetic links to disease is two-pronged: linkage studies begin with a disease and look for genes associated with it, while association studies begin with polymorphisms or mutations, and look for associations with disease.
  • Several genes have been identified that influence susceptibility to both asthma and COPD, reflecting similarities in disease presentation between the two conditions.
  • Nondisease traits that influence respiratory health, such as tendency to nicotine addiction, and lung function, have also been related to genetic variations.

See the entire Genetic Susceptibility Chapter