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Cat Exposure Increases Bronchial Responsiveness

. Chinn. But even moderate exposure to cat allergen resulted in significantly greater responsiveness.

Among people with any sensitization, the difference in BR between those who had low versus high exposure to cat allergen was almost as great a difference as that between non-asthmatic and asthmatic individuals in the United Kingdom centers of the ECRHS.

This study supports and clarifies previous research that has found that asthma is strongly related to indoor allergens and that patients with specific sensitizations exhibit greater BR in response to exposure to the allergens to which they are sensitized. However, the interaction between sensitization of any kind and current exposure was unexpected.

More than one in four of the individuals included in the ECRHS were sensitized to at least one of the allergens tested, indicating that avoidance of cat exposure would be beneficial to a much wider population than previously expected. Furthermore, cat allergen levels were ubiquitous in cat-owning communities, and their results showed effects of cat allergen exposure at lower levels than generally regarded necessary to produce a measurable result.

Based on the current research, it appears that many individuals could benefit from reduced cat ownership and exposure, says Dr. Chinn. However, because the findings were unexpected, it is important that results are replicated in other studies before firm recommendations are made.

The researchers could not rule out the possibility that cat allergen exposure or cat ownership could be a proxy for exposure to endotoxin, known to be an immune stimulant marginally associated with asthmatic symptoms, which is found in higher concentrations in cat owners homes.


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