Genetic ancestry and the relationship of cigarette smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema in four race/ethnic groups: a cross-sectional study

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Abstract

Background

Cigarette smoking is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Recent studies suggest that susceptibility to cigarette smoke may vary by race/ethnicity; however, they were generally small and relied on self-reported race/ethnicity.

Objective

To test the hypothesis that relationships of smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema differ by genetic ancestry and self-reported race/ethnicity among Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans.

Design

Cross-sectional population-based study of adults age 45–84 years in the USA.

Measurements

Principal components of genetic ancestry and continental ancestry estimated from one million genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms; pack-years of smoking; spirometry measured for 3344 participants; and per cent emphysema on computed tomography for 8224 participants.

Results

The prevalence of ever-smoking was: Caucasians, 57.6%; African-Americans, 56.4%; Hispanics, 46.7%; and Chinese-Americans, 26.8%. Every 10 pack-years was associated with −0.73% (95% CI −0.90% to −0.56%) decrement in the forced expiratory volume in 1 s to forced vital capacity (FEV1 to FVC) and a 0.23% (95% CI 0.08% to 0.38%) increase in per cent emphysema. There was no evidence that relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 to FVC, airflow obstruction and per cent emphysema varied by genetic ancestry (all p>0.10), self-reported race/ethnicity (all p>0.10) or, among African-Americans, African ancestry. There were small differences in relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 among male Chinese-Americans and to the FEV1 to FVC ratio with African and Native American ancestry among male Hispanics only.

Conclusions

In this large cohort, there was little to no evidence that the associations of smoking to lung function and per cent emphysema differed by genetic ancestry or self-reported race/ethnicity.

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