The best hypothesis to explain Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) pathogenesis is offered by the "triple risk model", which suggests that an interaction of different variables related to exogenous stressors and infant vulnerability may lead to the syndrome. Environmental factors are triggers that act during a particular sensible period, modulated by intrinsic genetic characteristics. Although literature data show that one of the major SIDS risk factors is smoking exposure, a specific involvement of molecular components has never been highlighted. Starting from these observations and considering the role of GSTT1 and GSTM1 genes functional polymorphisms in the detoxification process, we analyzed GSTM1 and GSTT1 null genotype frequencies in 47 SIDS exposed to tobacco smoke and 75 healthy individuals. A significant association (p < .0001) between the GSTM1 null genotype and SIDS exposed to smoke was found. On the contrary, no association between GSTT1 polymorphism and SIDS was determined. Results indicated the contribution of the GSTM1 -/- genotype resulting in null detoxification activity in SIDS cases, and led to a better comprehension of the triple risk model, highlighting smoking exposure as a real SIDS risk factor on a biochemical basis.
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