Role of Caspase 12 in respiratory diseases among people of African decent
Caspases are an important enzyme that controls inflammation. In the human CASP12 gene, there is a gene mutation to cause a short form, CASP12S. The majority of people have this mutation to make CASP12S. By contrast, 15-20% of African descent people do not have this mutation and make a full length of CASP12 [CASP12L]). This long form of CASP12L impairs inflammatory response and increases the risk of overwhelming infections.
We think that CASP12L may increase the risk to develop smoking-induced respiratory diseases. To test this idea, we will find out whether or not the absence of this mutation changes the prevalence of smoking-induced respiratory diseases, and airway obstruction among African decent people.
We will also find out whether or not smoking habits change these outcomes. This study should be completed very quickly within 2-3 months. If our suspicion is correct, we may need to differently treat people who have this mutation.