HealthDay News — A gene that affects whether children with asthma respond to corticosteroids has been identified, according to study findings published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The gene “may serve as a clinically useful biomarker to identify a subset of difficult-to-treat asthmatic children, and targeting the VNN1 pathway may be useful as a therapeutic strategy,” Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of the Asthma Research Center at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said in a hospital news release.

To identify biomarkers of corticosteroid treatment response in children with asthma and evaluate the utility and mechanistic basis of these biomarkers, Chang Xiao, MD, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and colleagues analyzed genomes of 57 children with asthma.

The activity of a gene called vanin-1 (VNN1) affected whether they were good or poor responders to corticosteroid treatment.

“Difficult-to-treat patients account for over 50% of health care costs associated with asthma,” said Hershey.

“There are new drugs that may be helpful, as well as those that affect the VNN1 pathway, but they have not been tested in asthma.” Over-activity of VNN1 is associated with a number of health problems, including inflammatory bowel disease and lupus, added the investigators.


  1. Xiao C et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2015; doi: