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PNAS 103 (14): 5496-5501

Copyright © 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences.

Life stress and diminished expression of genes encoding glucocorticoid receptor and beta2-adrenergic receptor in children with asthma

Gregory E. Miller*, and Edith Chen*

Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4

Figure 1
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Fig. 1. Relationship between chronic stress and beta2AR expression differs for children with asthma vs. healthy children. Among children with asthma, quantities of beta2AR mRNA decline as home life (Upper) and family relationships (Lower) contain higher levels of chronic stress. The reverse pattern is evident in healthy children. As home life (Upper) and family relationships (Lower) worsen, expression of the beta2AR gene increases. RQ, relative quantity of mRNA.


Figure 2
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Fig. 2. When acute events occur in the midst of ongoing chronic stress, their impact on expression of beta2AR and GR mRNA is accentuated. Children with asthma experience a 9.5-fold reduction in beta2AR mRNA (Top) and a 5.5-fold reduction in GR mRNA (Middle) when they are simultaneously exposed to a major life event and chronic family stress. In healthy children, this pattern is reversed (all panels). A marked decline in GR mRNA also occurs in children with asthma who experience a major life event at the same time as chronic stress in the home (Bottom). Data are plotted as mean ± SEM. RQ, relative quantity of mRNA.


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