Insomnia likely to cause asthma and allergy symptoms, study finds

Genetically predicted insomnia is a risk factor for allergic disease and asthma, according to a recent Mendelian randomization study.

According to a study published in Respiratory research. Researchers performed a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to determine the causal association between insomnia and allergic disease/asthma.

MRI uses genetic variants as instrumental variables to assess the potential causal impact of exposure on outcomes, which overcomes the limitations of observational methods, according to the authors.

The most up-to-date genome-wide association study (GWAS) datasets publicly available were used for this study. There were 248 single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with insomnia that were extracted from a large-scale GWAS. Genetic association data was also extracted from a publicly available GWAS.

GWAS datasets were used to extract genetic association data for allergic diseases; summary statistics on asthma, adult asthma and childhood asthma; genetic associations with insomnia; and genetic associations with moderate to severe asthma. All GWAS datasets featured participants of European ancestry. Statistics were used from UK Biobank data and 23andMe data.

A two-way MRI study used 3 models – the weighted inverse variance model, the weighted median model, and the MR-Egger regression model – to assess the causal relationship between insomnia and allergic disease, asthma and depression. -types of asthma.

MR analysis identified genetically predicted insomnia as a factor that increased the risk of allergic disease (odds ratio [OR], 1.054; 95% CI, 1.031-1.078). Causal effects of genetically predicted insomnia on asthma risk (OR, 1.043; 95% CI, 1.010-1.077) were also observed. Finally, the analysis found causal associations between genetically predicted insomnia and moderate to severe asthma (OR, 1.168; 95% CI, 1.069-1.277) and adult-onset asthma (OR, 1.086; 95% CI, 1.037-1.138).

There was no significant causal relationship between genetically predicted insomnia and childhood asthma. There was also no evidence of potential causative effects on insomnia of genetically predicted allergic diseases, asthma, and moderate to severe asthma.

There were some limitations to this study. There may have been some overlap in participant exposure and outcomes, which would reduce the quality of the data. Some diagnoses were based on self-reported conditions collected through questionnaires, which could lead to misclassification. Only populations of European ancestry were incorporated into the MR analysis, so the authors noted that all results should be verified in other populations.

The researchers concluded that their results provided evidence that genetically predicted insomnia was associated with an increased risk of allergic disease, asthma, moderate-to-severe asthma and adult-onset asthma.


Li R, Chen Y, Zhao A, et al. Exploring the genetic association of insomnia with allergic diseases and asthma: a two-way Mendelian randomization study. Breathe Res. 2022;23:84. doi:10.1186/s12931-022-02009-6

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