People who have frequent sinus infections are more likely than average to have a copy of a gene mutation associated with the respiratory disorder cystic fibrosis, says Garry R. Cutting of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. The report appears in the Oct. 11 Journal of the American Medical Association.
About 3.6 percent of people carry a bad copy of the gene, which is called CFTR. These people don’t have cystic fibrosis, which requires two copies of the mutation. But of 146 sinus sufferers tested, 10 showed a single bad copy of CFTR, while only 2 of 123 people without sinus problems did.
The CFTR protein helps cells lining the sinuses to clear away foreign microbes that attach to mucus there. Missing some of this protein may predispose people to sinus problems. Cutting cautions, however, that these infections could also stem from other environmental and genetic factors.