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BACKGROUND: The influence of asthma candidate genes on the development from wheeze to asthma in young children still needs to be defined. OBJECTIVE: To link genetic variants in asthma candidate genes to progression of wheeze to persistent wheeze into childhood asthma. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In a prospective study, children with recurrent wheeze from the ADEM (Asthma DEtection and Monitoring) study were followed until the age of six. At that age a classification (transient wheeze or asthma) was based on symptoms, lung function and medication use. In 198 children the relationship between this classification and 30 polymorphisms in 16 asthma candidate genes was assessed by logistic regression. In case of an association based on a p<0.10, replication analysis was performed in an independent birth cohort study (KOALA study, n = 248 included for the present analysis). RESULTS: In the ADEM study, the minor alleles of ADAM33 rs511898 and rs528557 and the ORMDL3/GSDMB rs7216389 polymorphisms were negatively associated, whereas the minor alleles of IL4 rs2243250 and rs2070874 polymorphisms were positively associated with childhood asthma. When replicated in the KOALA study, ADAM33 rs528557 showed a negative association of the CG/GG-genotype with progression of recurrent wheeze into childhood asthma (0.50 (0.26-0.97) p = 0.04) and no association with preschool wheeze. CONCLUSION: Polymorphisms in ADAM33, ORMDL3/GSDMB and IL4 were associated with childhood asthma in a group of children with recurrent wheeze. The replication of the negative association of the CG/GG-genotype of rs528557 ADAM33 with childhood asthma in an independent birth cohort study confirms that a compromised ADAM33 gene may be implicated in the progression of wheeze into childhood asthma.