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Air pollution alters immune function, worsens asthma symptoms
Date:10/5/2010

that the children in Fresno had lower overall levels of Treg function and more severe symptoms of asthma than the children in Palo Alto. For example, the non-asthmatic children in Fresno had Treg function results that were similar to the children with asthma in Palo Alto.

The study authors correlated increased exposure to PAH with methylation of the gene, Forkhead box transcription factor (Foxp3), which triggers Treg cell development. Methylation effectively disables the gene's function, leading to reduced levels of Treg cells. The connection between Treg function and the severity of asthma symptoms held for children in both groups.

While previous studies have found associations between pollution especially motor vehicle exhaust and an increased risk of developing asthma, few have traced its molecular pathway so completely, the study authors said.

"The link between diesel exhaust and asthma could simply have been that the particulates were irritating the lungs," said Nadeau. "What we found is that the problems are more systemic. This is one of the few papers to have linked from A to Z the increased exposure to ambient air pollution with suppressed Treg cell levels, changes in a key gene and increased severity of asthma symptoms."

The researchers noted that Treg cells are important for other autoimmune disorders, so the implications of this study could go beyond asthma.


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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California -- Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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