Researchers from the University of Chihuahua in Mexico report that immune systems of patients with asthma responded differently to a common laboratory challenge, depending on whether their white blood cells had been obtained during a time when they were suffering from common season allergic rhinitis or when they were free of such allergic symptoms.
The study was presented by Dr. Irene Leal-Berumen on Saturday, April 2, at The American Association of Immunologists scientific sessions during Experimental Biology 2005 in San Diego. She says the findings are an important first step to personalizing treatments for allergy and asthma, both worldwide diseases that interfere with life quality and generate high economic burden.
Asthma is a chronic obstructive inflammatory lung disease with symptoms including wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks can be triggered by viral upper respiratory infections, exercise, extreme temperature condition, and chemical irritants – and also by the same allergens that cause seasonal allergies to pollen or mold spore or perennial allergies to dust mites, cockroaches, feathers, animal fur and other allergens. In fact, the vast majority of patients with asthma also experience one or both of these forms of allergy, with the same symptoms of frequent sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and nasal stuffiness.
In people with and without asthma, the body's response to allergens is based in the leukocytes, or white blood cells, that rush to defend the body against foreign agents. The leukocytes produce cytokines that mediate and regulate immunity and inflammation to an immune stimulus. Because people with asthma and allergy share this common etiological pathway, they show different expressions of their disease with a wide variety of therapeutic responses. That's why Dr. Leal-Berumen's laboratory became interested in studying the different response of these cytokines in asthma patients when they were and were not experiencing allergies.