Differential Gene Expressions in Cough Variant Asthma and Classical Asthma

Woman coughing
Woman coughing
The pathogenesis of cough variant asthma and classical asthma may be related to genes such as FCER1A, HDC, and IL4.

The pathogenesis of cough variant asthma and classical asthma may be related to genes such as FCER1A, HDC, and IL4, according to study results published in the Journal of Asthma.

Cough variant asthma is considered as a precursor to classical asthma; however, the mechanism of asthma has not been fully elucidated. Therefore, researchers conducted a comparative study between classical asthma and cough variant asthma to further understand the pathogenesis of asthma. They isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from adults with cough variant asthma and classical asthma, and healthy adults. Each group consisted of 5 cases.

Gene expressions were significantly different among the 3 groups, with 202 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the classical asthma and the cough variant asthma groups. A Gene Ontology analysis suggested that the DEGs were significantly enriched in histone H4-K20 demethylation and antigen processing and presentation of endogenous antigens. HDC, EGR1, DEFA4, LTF, G0S2, IL4, TFF3, CTSG, FCER1A, and CAMP were selected as candidate genes; however, the results of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed that the expression levels of FCER1A, IL4, and HDC in the cough variant asthma group were significantly different from those in the other2 groups (classical asthma and control groups; P <.05).

It is important to note that this was only a pilot study and had a very small sample size that included all women. Thus, the results and conclusions may be limited.

“In this pilot study, we first found that gene expression in PBMCs among patients with [cough variant asthma], patients with [classical asthma] and healthy adults was significantly different,” the study authors concluded. “Further studies may be performed to increase the sample size and find more candidate genes and mechanisms.”


Guanghong Z, Qingcui Z, Wei W, et al. A pilot study of differential gene expressions in patients with cough variant asthma and classic bronchial asthma. J Asthma. Published online April 20, 2021. doi:10.1080/02770903.2021.1917604