Ethnicity impacts the cystic fibrosis diagnosis: A note of caution

Barbara Bosch, Diana Bilton, Patrick Sosnay, Karen S. Raraigh, Denise Y.F. Mak, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Vincent Gulmans, Muriel Thomas, Harry Cuppens, Margarida Amaral, Kris De Boeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background The diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is by consensus based on the same parameters in all patients, yet the influence of ethnicity has only scarcely been studied. We aimed at elucidating the impact of Asian descent on the diagnosis of CF. Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of the CFTR2 and UK CF databases for clinical phenotype, sweat chloride values and CFTR mutations and compared the diagnostic characteristics of Asian to non-Asian patients with CF. Results Asian patients with CF do not have a worse clinical phenotype. The repeatedly reported lower FEV1 of Asian patients with CF is attributable to the influence of ethnicity on lung function in general. However, pancreatic sufficiency is more common in Asian patients with CF. The diagnosis of CF in people with Asian ancestry is heterogeneous as mean sweat chloride values are lower (92 ± 26 versus 99 ± 22 mmol/L in controls) and 14% have sweat chloride values below 60 mmol/L (versus 6% in non-Asians). Also, CFTR mutations differ from those in Caucasians: 55% of British Asian patients with CF do not have one mutation included in the routine newborn screening panel. Conclusions Bringing together the largest cohort of patients with CF and Asian ethnicity, we demonstrate that Asian roots impact on all three CF diagnostic pillars. These findings have implications for clinical practice in the increasingly ethnically diverse Western population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-491
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cystic Fibrosis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Asian ethnicity
  • CFTR2
  • Cystic fibrosis diagnosis
  • Newborn screening panel
  • UK CF registry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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