Antioxidant-related genes may help determine who develops respiratory
allergies following inhalation of diesel emissions, according to a study funded
by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Lancet.
In the study, researchers from the University of California and the
University of Southern California, both in Los Angeles, enlisted volunteers
who were allergic to ragweed and exposed them to a mix of ragweed and diesel
exhaust. Individuals lacking the antioxidant-producing form of the gene GSTM1 had significantly greater allergic responses compared
with those who had the gene. Individuals lacking GSTM1 who
had a variant of a related gene called GSTP1 experienced
even stronger allergic reactions. An estimated 50% or more of the US population
lack GSTM1; 15% to 20% of the US population lack GSTM1 and have the GSTP1 variant.
Hampton T. Diesel Fumes and Allergies. JAMA. 2004;291(8):933. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.933-b