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Those with allergic asthma face double trouble during flu season, UT Southwestern findings suggest
Date:5/28/2010

DALLAS June 1, 2010 New research from UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests that allergic reactions to pet dander, dust mites and mold may prevent people with allergic asthma from generating a healthy immune response to respiratory viruses such as influenza.

"Our findings imply that the better your asthma is controlled, the more likely you are to have an appropriate response to a virus," said Dr. Michelle Gill, assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study appearing online and in the June edition of the Journal of Immunology. "When individuals with asthma come in contact with an allergic trigger and a respiratory virus, the allergen may actually interfere with the immune response to the virus. This interruption in the antiviral response may contribute to exacerbations of asthma that are commonly associated with respiratory viral infections."

More than half of the 20 million people diagnosed with asthma in the U.S., including 2.5 million children, have been diagnosed with allergic asthma.

Fifty-six people ranging in age from 3 to 35 participated in the study. Twenty-six of the participants suffered from allergic asthma; the remaining 30 made up the control group. Most of the participants were African-American, and the mean age was 15 years in both the asthma and control groups. In addition, those in the asthma group had been diagnosed by a physician and had a positive skin test to at least one indoor allergen.

Researchers first isolated immune cells called dendritic cells from study participants. These cells are found in blood and tissues that are in contact with the environment, such as skin and the linings of the nose and lungs. When they encounter respiratory viruses such as flu, dendritic cells normally produce proteins that help the body mobilize the immune system and overcome the viral infection. When the dendritic cells first encounter an all
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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Those with allergic asthma face double trouble during flu season, UT Southwestern findings suggest
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