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Vitamin D deficiency linked with airway changes in children with severe asthma
Date:9/22/2011

Children with severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) may have poorer lung function and worse symptoms compared to children with moderate asthma, due to lower levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to researchers in London. Lower levels of vitamin D may cause structural changes in the airway muscles of children with STRA, making breathing more difficult. The study provides important new evidence for possible treatments for the condition.

The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"This study clearly demonstrates that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poorer lung function, increased use of medication, worse symptoms and an increase in the mass of airway smooth muscle in children with STRA," said Atul Gupta, MRCPCH, M.D., a researcher from Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College and King's College London. "It is therefore plausible that the link between airway smooth muscle mass and lung function in severe asthma may be partly explained by low levels of vitamin D."

While most children with asthma can be successfully treated with low doses of corticosteroids, about 5 to 10 percent of asthmatic children do not respond to standard treatment. These children have severe therapy-resistant asthma, or STRA, experience more asthma episodes and asthma-related illnesses, and require more healthcare services, than their treatment-receptive peers.

Although previous studies of children with asthma have linked increases in airway smooth muscle mass with poorer lung function and in vitro studies have established a connection between levels of vitamin D and the proliferation of airway smooth muscle, this is the first study to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D and the pathophysiology of children with STRA.

"Little is known about vitamin D status and its effect on
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Contact: Brian Kell
bkell@thoracic.org
212-315-6442
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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