The following is a summary of “Dog ownership in infancy is protective for persistent wheeze in 17q21 asthma-risk carriers,” published in the FEBRUARY 2023 issue of Allergy & Immunology by Tutino, et al.

Asthma-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms explained only a small portion of the genetic heritability from extensive genome-wide association studies. Gene-environment interactions (GxE) and wide phenotypic definitions were likely reasons for the missing heritability. Knowledge existed of the processes underlying GxE in asthma. Previous GxE research on pet ownership produced contradictory findings. For a study, researchers intended to investigate the GxE of wheezing and infant pet ownership at the 17q12-21 locus.

Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the GxE relationship between dog and cat ownership in infancy and the asthma-risk mutation at 17q12-21, rs2305480, using wheezing classes obtained from five UK-based birth cohorts (latent class analysis). Data on genotype and pet ownership for a total of 9,149 kids were available. The results of separate analyses’ summary statistics were meta-analyzed.

The additive model odds ratio for persistent wheeze was 1.37; 95% CI, 1.25–1.51. The ownership of a dog or cat did not appear to be related to wheezing. They discovered statistically significant evidence of a GxE interaction between rs2305480 and dog ownership on persistent wheezing (P = 8.3 × 10-4); among dog owners, the G allele was no longer linked to an elevated risk of persistent wheezing (additive model odds ratio, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.73-1.24). G allele was linked to an increased incidence of chronic wheezing in people without pets (odds ratio: 1.61; 95% CI: 1.40-1.86). There was no such genetic impact dampening among cat owners.

rs2305480 G was no longer linked to increased chronic wheezing among dog owners (or asthma). Therefore, persons who possess the 17q12-21 risk allele may have a reduced probability of developing asthma.