Integrative genetics-metabolomics analysis of infant bronchiolitis-childhood asthma link: A multicenter prospective study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Frontiers in immunology






asthma; bronchiolitis; childhood asthma; genetics; integrated-omics; metabolomics; phosphatidylglycerol; sphingolipids


BACKGROUND: Infants with bronchiolitis are at high risk for developing childhood asthma. While genome-wide association studies suggest common genetic susceptibilities between these conditions, the mechanisms underlying the link remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: Through integrated genetics-metabolomics analysis in this high-risk population, we sought to identify genetically driven metabolites associated with asthma development and genetic loci associated with both these metabolites and asthma susceptibility. METHODS: In a multicenter prospective cohort study of infants hospitalized for bronchiolitis, we profiled the nasopharyngeal metabolome and genotyped the whole genome at hospitalization. We identified asthma-related metabolites from 283 measured compounds and conducted metabolite quantitative trait loci (mtQTL) analyses. We further examined the mtQTL associations by testing shared genetic loci for metabolites and asthma using colocalization analysis and the concordance between the loci and known asthma-susceptibility genes. RESULTS: In 744 infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis, 28 metabolites (e.g., docosapentaenoate [DPA], 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol, sphingomyelin) were associated with asthma risk. A total of 349 loci were associated with these metabolites-161 for non-Hispanic white, 120 for non-Hispanic black, and 68 for Hispanics. Of these, there was evidence for 30 shared loci between 16 metabolites and asthma risk (colocalization posterior probability ≥0.5). The significant SNPs within loci were aligned with known asthma-susceptibility genes (e.g., , ). CONCLUSION: The integrated genetics-metabolomics analysis identified genetically driven metabolites during infancy that are associated with asthma development and genetic loci associated with both these metabolites and asthma susceptibility. Identifying these metabolites and genetic loci should advance research into the functional mechanisms of the infant bronchiolitis-childhood asthma link.