The prevalence of asthma and allergic diseases is disproportionately distributed among different populations, with an increasing trend observed in Western countries. Here we investigated how the environment affected genotype-phenotype association in a genetically homogeneous, but geographically separated population. We evaluated 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) corresponding to 8 genes (ADAM33, ALOX5, LT-α, LTC4S, NOS1, ORMDL3, TBXA2R and TNF-α), the lung function and five respiratory/allergic conditions (ever asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis, dermatitis and atopy) in two populations of Inuit residing either in the westernized environment of Denmark or in the rural area of Greenland. Our results showed that lung function was associated with genetic variants in ORMDL3, with polymorphisms having a significant interaction with place of residence. LT-α SNP rs909253 and rs1041981 were significantly associated with bronchitis risk. LT-α SNP rs2844484 was related to dermatitis susceptibility and was significantly influenced by the place of residence. The observed gene-phenotype relationships were exclusively present in one population and absent in the other population. We conclude that the genotype-phenotype associations relating to bronchitis and allergy susceptibility are dependent on the environment and that environmental factors/lifestyles modify genetic predisposition and change the genetic effects on diseases.
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