American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for December (first issue)

December 20, 2001

Risk of sarcoidosis for close relatives

In a large study involving 10,862 first-and 17,047 second-degree relatives of 706 sarcoidosis case control pairs, persons with the illness were almost five times more likely than controls to have a sibling or parent with a history of the disease. The researchers reported that the chances of a first- or second-degree relative with a history of sarcoidosis being related to a disease case were 4.6 times greater than the familial risk of a control. Sarcoidosis, a systemic illness which strikes between ages 20 to 40, is characterized by the formation of scarlike tissue or nodules in the body. Although the disease can disappear in 2 or 3 years, it can also go on to involve different organs and cause significant problems. The researchers said that despite the low incidence in the population, families with two or more affected members are a relatively common occurrence. When compared with African-Americans, the scientists noted that the disease exerts a more detectable genetic effect on white families. The research appears in the first of two December issues of the ATS peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Air pollution changes affect lung growth and performance

Exposure to changes in air pollution levels during adolescence has a measurable and potentially important effect on lung function growth and performance. Researchers from the University of Southern California School of Medicine studied 110 children (59 boys and 51 girls). Originally signed up at ages 10 and 11 in 1993 and 1994 for the Childrens Health Study, the investigators sought, in 1998, to determine whether changes in air quality caused by the young person moving to another location within a few years were associated with shifts in annual lung function growth rates. They noted that the then adolescent participants, who had moved to areas where levels of tiny particulate matter in the air were lower, had increased growth in lung function, while those who had moved to communities where levels were higher showed decreased growth in lung function. From air pollution data at their current and former community sites, the children were assigned pollution scores on the basis of average annual 24-hour nitrogen dioxide levels, the daily average mass of very tiny particulate matter, and average daytime levels of ozone. The research appears in the first of two December issues of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Workshop summary on pulmonary complications of HIV infection

The summary of a National Heart, Lung Blood Institute-sponsored workshop on "Pulmonary Complications of HIV Infection" reported that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals who respond to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) with immunological improvement have a substantially decreased risk of developing Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Despite its decline in incidence, PCP still remains the most common acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining indicator condition among opportunistic infections. The Workshop report points out that HIV-infected persons who adhere to a HAART regimen likely will suppress HIV replications, preserve or improve immunologic function, and reduce opportunistic events and mortality rates. But the report declares that strict adherence to therapy is vital to its success although difficult to achieve since the regimens are complex and expensive. The "drug cocktails" can also interfere with the effectiveness of other medications, including anti-tuberculosis and lipid-lowering medicines. The Workshop summary, which covers a wide range of topics, provides an extensive list of research project needs connected with HIV and pulmonary disease, along with the suggestion for a wide-ranging multicenter, clinical cohort study which would last several years. The summary appears in the first of two December issues of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
For a complete text of these articles, please see the ATS Journal Online Website at For contact information on a specific investigator, to request a complimentary journalist subscription to ATS journals online, or if you would like additional details from postal or e-mail news releases provided only to journalists, contact Cathy Carlomagno at (212) 315-6442, by fax on letterhead to (212) 315-6455; or by e-mail to

American Thoracic Society

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