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Cat Exposure Increases Bronchial Responsiveness

Increased exposure to cat allergen is associated with greater bronchial responsiveness (BR) in people with certain common allergies , even if they are not specifically allergic to cats. This suggests that reduced exposure to cats may be beneficial for allergic individuals, regardless of their specific allergies.

This was an unexpected finding, said Susan Chinn, D.Sc., lead author of the study. We presupposed that we would find increased responsiveness only in those individuals who were exposed to cat allergen and whose blood tests showed that they were allergic to cats. But our study suggests that all allergic individuals have signs of asthmatic responses if exposed to cat allergen, even if blood tests show that they are not allergic to cats.

Dr. Chinn, of the Imperial College in London, and 12 other researchers reported their findings in the first issue for July 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

The study examined cross-sectional data from 1,884 participants in 20 centers in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) follow-up, which included measurements of house dust mite and cat allergen in mattress dust samples, and data on IgE sensitization to four major allergenscat, house dust mite, Cladosporidium (a common mold) and timothy grass.

The researchers used the objective measure of choice in epidemiological studies on asthmaBR in response to a methacholine challenge to analyze the interaction between exposure to house dust mite and cat allergen and prior allergic sensitization. Because the study included complete data on nearly 2,000 individuals across 20 centers in Europe, researchers were able to exclude potentially confounding effects.

Our primary results showed no correlation between levels of house mite dust and BR among individuals with sensitization to any of the four tested allergens, said Dr
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