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1.  A review of anti-IgE monoclonal antibody (omalizumab) as add on therapy for severe allergic (IgE-mediated) asthma 
Bronchial asthma is recognized as a highly prevalent health problem in the developed and developing world with significant social and economic consequences. Increased asthma severity is not only associated with enhanced recurrent hospitalization and mortality but also with higher social costs. The pathogenetic background of allergic-atopic bronchial asthma is characterized by airway inflammation with infiltration of several cells (mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and T-helper (Th)2 lymphocytes). However, in atopic asthma the trigger factors for acute attacks and chronic worsening of bronchial inflammation are aeroallergens released by pollens, dermatophagoides, and pets, which are able to induce an immune response by interaction with IgE antibodies. Currently anti-inflammatory treatments are effective for most asthma patients, but there are asthmatic subjects whose disease is not completely controlled by inhaled or systemic corticosteroids and who account for a significant portion of the healthcare costs of asthma. A novel therapeutic approach to asthma and other allergic respiratory diseases involves interference in the action of IgE, and this antibody has been viewed as a target for novel immunological drug development in asthma. Omalizumab is a humanized recombinant monoclonal anti-IgE antibody approved for treatment of moderate to severe IgE-mediated (allergic) asthma. This non-anaphylactogenic anti-IgE antibody inhibits IgE functions, blocking free serum IgE and inhibiting their binding to cellular receptors. By reducing serum IgE levels and IgE receptor expression on inflammatory cells in the context of allergic cascade, omalizumab represents a new class of mast cells stabilizing drugs; it is a novel approach to the treatment of atopic asthma. Omalizumab therapy is well tolerated and significantly improves symptoms and disease control, reducing asthma exacerbations and the need to use high dosage of inhaled corticosteroids. Moreover, omalizumab improves quality of life of patients with severe persistent allergic asthma which is inadequately controlled by currently available asthma medications. In conclusion omalizumab may fulfil an important need in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
PMCID: PMC2374942  PMID: 18472983
airway hyper-reactivity; asthma; allergic respiratory diseases; atopic respiratory diseases; anti-IgE therapy; hypersensitivity; monoclonal anti-IgE antibody; omalizumab
2.  Roles for the High Affinity IgE Receptor, FcεRI, of Human Basophils in the Pathogenesis and Therapy of Allergic Asthma: Disease Promotion, Protection or Both? 
The open allergy journal  2010;3:91-101.
The role of basophils, the rarest of blood granulocytes, in the pathophysiology of allergic asthma is still incompletely understood. Indirect evidence generated over many decades is consistent with a role for basophils in disease promotion. Recent improvements in procedures to purify and analyze very small numbers of human cells have generally supported this view, but have also revealed new complexities.
This chapter focuses on our analyses of Fcε R1 function in basophils in the context of understanding and treating human allergic asthma. In long-term studies, we demonstrated that asthmatic subjects have higher circulating numbers of basophils than non-atopic non-asthmatic subjects and that their basophils show higher rates of both basal and anti-IgE or antigen-stimulated histamine release. These results hint at a direct role for basophils in promoting asthma. Supporting this interpretation, the non-releaser phenotype that we linked to the excessive proteolysis of Syk via the ubiquitin/proteasomal pathway is less common in basophils from asthmatic than non-asthmatic donors. The discovery of a basophil-specific pathway regulating Syk levels presents a clear opportunity for therapy. Another route to therapy was revealed by evidence that basophil FcεRI signaling can be downregulated by co-crosslinking the ITAM-containing IgE receptor, FcγRI, to the ITIM-containing IgG receptor, FcγRIIB. Based on this discovery, hybrid co-crosslinking fusion proteins are being engineered as potential therapies targeting basophils. A third distinguishing property of human basophils is their high dependence on IgE binding to stabilize membrane FcεRI. The circulating IgE scavenging mAb, Omalizumab, reduces FcεRI expression in basophils from asthmatics by over 95% and produces a substantial impairment of IL-4, IL-8 and IL-13 production in response to the crosslinking of residual cell surface IgE-FcεRI. A search for small molecule inhibitors that similarly impair high affinity IgE binding to basophils may yield reagents that mimic Omalizumab’s therapeutic benefits without the potential for immune side effects.
Although studies on allergen and FcεRI-mediated basophil activation all point to a role in promoting disease, a case can also be made for an alternative or additional role of basophil FcεRI in protection against allergic asthma. Human basophils have high affinities for IgE, they upregulate receptor levels over a >100-fold range as circulating IgE levels increase and they have short half-lives in the circulation. Thus, when allergen is absent, basophil FcεRI could serve as scavengers of serum IgE and therefore protectors against mast cell IgE-mediated inflammatory responses. Further studies are clearly needed to determine if FcεR-expressing basophils play pathogenic or protective roles – or both – in human allergic asthma and other IgE-mediated inflammatory disorders.
PMCID: PMC4090948  PMID: 25018787
Allergic asthma; basophils; FcεRI; IgE; pathogenesis; therapy
3.  Oral curcumin supplementation in patients with atopic asthma 
Allergy & Rhinology  2011;2(2):e51-e53.
Oral curcumin is recognized to have anti-inflammatory properties and has been used by ancient traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of diseases. In vitro studies have confirmed the ability of curcumin to inhibit allergic inflammatory cytokine responses from lymphocytes; however, there are no in vivo studies of curcumin to treat inflammation associated with allergic asthma. This study was designed to determine the effect of oral curcumin supplementation on patients with stable, persistent, atopic asthma. Adult patients with stable, persistent asthma with evidence of allergic sensitization were randomized to receive 1000 mg of curcumin twice daily or placebo. Subjects were followed for 6 months and performed monthly spirometry (pre- and postbronchodilator); Asthma Control Test (ACT) scoring; and measurements for fractional excretion of nitric oxide (NO), serum eosinophil count, leukocyte count, total IgE, specific IgE to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Der p) and Dermatophagoides farinae (Der f), use of rescue albuterol, and dose of inhaled corticosteroid. Nine patients were randomized into the treatment arm and six were randomized into the placebo group. No differential response was seen in the treatment and placebo groups regarding the primary end point, postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1). Similarly, all secondary end point evaluations were not significantly different. Despite in vitro evidence that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and can inhibit allergic cytokine responses from lymphocytes in vitro, curcumin, 1000-mg, twice daily supplementation did not significantly affect postbronchodilator FEV1, ACT scores, use of rescue bronchodilator, dose of inhaled corticosteroid, exhaled NO, serum IgE, total white blood cell count specific IgE to Der p or Der f, and blood eosinophils in patients with persistent atopic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3390116  PMID: 22852117
Allergy; asthma; curcumin; herbal
4.  Treating severe allergic asthma with anti-IgE monoclonal antibody (omalizumab): a review 
Increased asthma severity is not only associated with enhanced recurrent hospitalization and mortality but also with higher social costs.
Several cases of asthma are atopic in nature, with the trigger for acute asthma attacks and chronic worsening of inflammation being allergens inducing an immune, IgE mediated response.
Anti-inflammatory treatments are effective for most of asthma patients, but there are subjects whose disease is incompletely controlled by inhaled or systemic corticosteroids and these patients account for about 50% of the healthcare costs of asthma.
Omalizumab is a biological engineered, humanized recombinant monoclonal anti-IgE antibody developed for the treatment of allergic diseases and with clear efficacy in adolescent and adult patients with severe allergic asthma. The anti-IgE antibody inhibits IgE functions blocking free serum IgE and inhibiting their binding to cellular receptors. By reducing serum IgE levels and IgE receptor expression on inflammatory cells in the context of allergic cascade, omalizumab has demonstrated to be a very useful treatment of atopic asthma, improving quality of life of patients with severe persistent allergic asthma that is inadequately controlled by currently available asthma medications. Several trials have demonstrated that this therapy is well tolerated and significantly improves symptoms and disease control, reducing asthma exacerbations and the need to use high dosage of inhaled corticosteroids.
PMCID: PMC4113133  PMID: 24735949
Allergic asthma; Allergic respiratory diseases; Anti-IgE therapy; Monoclonal anti-IgE antibody; Omalizumab; Therapy of asthma; Urticaria
5.  The effect of the novel phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor MEM 1414 on the allergen induced responses in mild asthma 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):166.
Inhaled allergen challenge is a standard method to study airway responses to inflammatory provocation and evaluate the therapeutic potential of novel anti-inflammatory compounds in asthma. MEM 1414 is a novel oral PDE4 inhibitor with high affinity and selectivity creating the potential for an improved side effect profile vs non-selective PDE inhibitors. We evaluated the tolerability and effect of MEM 1414 on airway responses in mild asthmatics.
A randomised double blind placebo controlled cross over study in two centres, in which sixteen steroid naïve atopic asthmatics were challenged with inhaled allergen. Subjects were dosed with MEM 1414 (600 mg) or placebo, twice daily orally for 7 days. Allergen challenge was performed on day 6 (2 hours post-dose), and methacholine responsiveness was measured 24 hours post allergen (day 7). Biomarkers of drug effects using ex vivo LPS stimulation of whole blood production of interleukin (IL)-6 and leukotriene (LT)-B4 and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) were measured on day 6 (0, 2 and 8 hours post-dose). Plasma pharmacokinetics were measured on days 1, 6 and 7. The primary endpoint was the effect on late asthmatic response to allergen.
Treatment with MEM 1414 abrogated the late phase response with a mean difference in FEV1 (LAR 3–10 hours) of 104 ml (25%) vs placebo (p < 0.005), with no effect on the early response. Biomarker responses were also attenuated with MEM 1414 treatment with reductions in LPS-stimulated whole blood assays for TNFα at 8 hours (p < 0.03) and LTB4 at 24 hours (p = 0.0808) with no change in the IL-6 response. The MEM 1414 treatment phase was associated with higher incidence of nausea (6/16 MEM 1414 vs 2/16 placebo) and vomiting (3/16 vs 0/16 placebo).
Oral MEM 1414, a novel PDE4 inhibitor, significantly reduces the late response following inhaled allergen challenge. MEM 1414 also inhibited whole blood assays of cytokine production from inflammatory cells. MEM 1414 was associated with a typical adverse event profile of PDE4 inhibitors, namely nausea and vomiting although these were mild side effects.
Trial registration number
Current controlled trials ISRCTN48047493.
PMCID: PMC4228152  PMID: 25351474
Phosphodiesterase (PDE4); Inhaled allergen challenge; Asthma; COPD; Biomarkers; TNFα; LTB4
6.  Allergic rhinitis: evidence for impact on asthma 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2006;6(Suppl 1):S4.
This paper reviews the current evidence indicating that comorbid allergic rhinitis may have clinically relevant effects on asthma.
Allergic rhinitis is very common in patients with asthma, with a reported prevalence of up to 100% in those with allergic asthma. While the temporal relation of allergic rhinitis and asthma diagnoses can be variable, the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis often precedes that of asthma. Rhinitis is an independent risk factor for the subsequent development of asthma in both atopic and nonatopic individuals. Controlled studies have provided conflicting results regarding the benefits for asthma symptoms of treating comorbid allergic rhinitis with intranasal corticosteroids. Effects of other treatments for comorbid allergic rhinitis, including antihistamines, allergen immunotherapy, systemic anti-IgE therapy, and antileukotriene agents, have been examined in a limited number of studies; anti-IgE therapy and antileukotriene agents such as the leukotriene receptor antagonists have benefits for treating both allergic rhinitis and asthma. Results of observational studies indicate that treating comorbid allergic rhinitis results in a lowered risk of asthma-related hospitalizations and emergency visits. Results of several retrospective database studies in the United States and in Europe indicate that, for patients with asthma, the presence of comorbid allergic rhinitis is associated with higher total annual medical costs, greater prescribing frequency of asthma-related medications, as well as increased likelihood of asthma-related hospital admissions and emergency visits. There is therefore evidence suggesting that comorbid allergic rhinitis is a marker for more difficult to control asthma and worsened asthma outcomes.
These findings highlight the potential for improving asthma outcomes by following a combined therapeutic approach to comorbid allergic rhinitis and asthma rather than targeting each condition separately.
PMCID: PMC1698497  PMID: 17140422
7.  Asthma and other recurrent wheezing disorders in children (chronic) 
Clinical Evidence  2012;2012:0302.
Childhood asthma is the most common chronic paediatric illness. There is no cure for asthma but good treatment to palliate symptoms is available. Asthma is more common in children with a personal or family history of atopy, increased severity and frequency of wheezing episodes, and presence of variable airway obstruction or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Precipitating factors for symptoms and acute episodes include infection, house dust mites, allergens from pet animals, exposure to tobacco smoke, and exercise.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of single-agent prophylaxis in children taking as-needed inhaled beta2 agonists for asthma? What are the effects of additional prophylactic treatments in childhood asthma inadequately controlled by standard-dose inhaled corticosteroids? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 48 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (long-acting), corticosteroids (inhaled standard or higher doses), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral), omalizumab, and theophylline (oral).
Key Points
Childhood asthma can be difficult to distinguish from viral wheeze and can affect up to 20% of children.
Regular monotherapy with inhaled corticosteroids improves symptoms, reduces exacerbations, and improves physiological outcomes in children with asthma symptoms requiring regular short-acting beta2 agonist treatment. Their effect on final adult height is minimal and when prescribed within recommended doses have an excellent safety record. Regular monotherapy with other treatments is not superior to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists may have a role as first-line prophylaxis in very young children.
There is consensus that long-acting beta2 agonists should not be used for first-line prophylaxis. CAUTION: Monotherapy with long-acting beta2 agonists does not reduce asthma exacerbations but may increase the chance of severe asthma episodes.
Theophylline was used as first-line prevention before the introduction of inhaled corticosteroids. Although there is weak evidence that theophylline is superior to placebo, theophylline should no longer be used as first-line prophylaxis in childhood asthma because of clear evidence of the efficacy and safety of inhaled corticosteroids. Theophylline has serious adverse effects (cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions) if therapeutic blood concentrations are exceeded.
When low-dose inhaled corticosteroids fail to control asthma, most older children will respond to one of the add-on options available, which include addition of long-acting beta2 agonists, addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists, addition of theophylline, or increased dose of inhaled corticosteroid. However, we don't know for certain how effective these additional treatments are because we found no/limited RCT evidence of benefit compared with adding placebo/no additional treatments. Addition of long-acting beta2 agonists may reduce symptoms and improve physiological measures compared with increased dose of corticosteroids in older children. Long-acting beta2 agonists are not currently licensed for use in children under 5 years of age.Consensus suggests that younger children are likely to benefit from addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists. Although there is weak evidence that addition of theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids does improve symptom control and reduce exacerbations, theophylline should only be added to inhaled corticosteroids in children aged over 5 years when the addition of long-acting beta2 agonists and leukotriene receptor antagonists have both been unsuccessful.
Omalizumab may be indicated in the secondary care setting for older children (aged over 5 years) with poorly controlled allergic asthma despite use of intermediate- and high-dose inhaled corticosteroids once the diagnosis is confirmed and compliance and psychological issues are addressed. However, we need more data to draw firm conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3285219  PMID: 22305975
8.  Effect of the leukotriene receptor antagonist MK-0679 on baseline pulmonary function in aspirin sensitive asthmatic subjects. 
Thorax  1993;48(12):1205-1210.
BACKGROUND--The cysteinyl leukotrienes (LTC4, LTD4, and LTE4) have been shown to mediate airway obstruction evoked by several factors which trigger asthmatic reactions--for example, allergen and exercise. Accordingly, drugs which block the action or formation of these leukotrienes are being evaluated as a new treatment of asthma. Elevated production of leukotrienes has been reported in asthmatic subjects who are intolerant to aspirin and related nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In this study the influence of the specific leukotriene receptor antagonist MK-0679 was tested on basal airway function in asthmatic patients with documented aspirin intolerance. METHODS--The eight subjects in the study had a mean baseline FEV1 of 78% predicted (range 58-99%) and six required treatment with inhaled glucocorticosteroids (400-1200 micrograms budesonide/beclomethasone daily). On two separate days the subjects received either 825 mg MK-0679 or placebo, orally in a double blind, randomised, crossover design. RESULTS--The leukotriene antagonist MK-0679 caused bronchodilation which lasted for at least nine hours. The average peak improvement in FEV1 was 18% above the predrug baseline, but the bronchodilator response varied between 34% and 5% and was found to correlate strongly with the severity of asthma and aspirin sensitivity. CONCLUSIONS--The findings indicate that ongoing leukotriene production may be one cause of persistent airway obstruction in aspirin sensitive asthmatic subjects and that they may benefit from treatment with a leukotriene receptor antagonist.
PMCID: PMC464969  PMID: 8303624
9.  New drugs targeting Th2 lymphocytes in asthma 
Asthma represents a profound worldwide public health problem. The most effective anti-asthmatic drugs currently available include inhaled β2-agonists and glucocorticoids and control asthma in about 90-95% of patients. The current asthma therapies are not cures and symptoms return soon after treatment is stopped even after long term therapy. Although glucocorticoids are highly effective in controlling the inflammatory process in asthma, they appear to have little effect on the lower airway remodelling processes that appear to play a role in the pathophysiology of asthma at currently prescribed doses. The development of novel drugs may allow resolution of these changes. In addition, severe glucocorticoid-dependent and resistant asthma presents a great clinical burden and reducing the side-effects of glucocorticoids using novel steroid-sparing agents is needed. Furthermore, the mechanisms involved in the persistence of inflammation are poorly understood and the reasons why some patients have severe life threatening asthma and others have very mild disease are still unknown. Drug development for asthma has been directed at improving currently available drugs and findings new compounds that usually target the Th2-driven airway inflammatory response. Considering the apparently central role of T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of asthma, drugs targeting disease-inducing Th2 cells are promising therapeutic strategies. However, although animal models of asthma suggest that this is feasible, the translation of these types of studies for the treatment of human asthma remains poor due to the limitations of the models currently used. The myriad of new compounds that are in development directed to modulate Th2 cells recruitment and/or activation will clarify in the near future the relative importance of these cells and their mediators in the complex interactions with the other pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory cells and mediators responsible of the different asthmatic phenotypes. Some of these new Th2-oriented strategies may in the future not only control symptoms and modify the natural course of asthma, but also potentially prevent or cure the disease.
PMCID: PMC2259400  PMID: 18315837
10.  A review on herbal antiasthmatics 
In traditional systems of medicine, many plants have been documented to be useful for the treatment of various respiratory disorders including asthma. In the last two decades the use of medicinal plants and natural products has been increased dramatically all over the world. Current synthetic drugs used in pharmacotherapy of asthma are unable to act at all the stages and targets of asthma. However some herbal alternatives employed in asthma are proven to provide symptomatic relief and assist in the inhibition of disease progression also. The herbs have shown interesting results in various target specific biological activities such as bronchodilation, mast cell stabilization, anti-anaphylactic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory and inhibition of mediators such as leukotrienes, lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase, platelet activating, phosphodiesterase and cytokine, in the treatment of asthma. This paper is an attempt to classify these pharmacological and clinical findings based on their possible mechanism of action reported. It also signifies the need for development of polyherbal formulations containing various herbs acting at particular sites of the pathophysiological cascade of asthma for prophylaxis as well as for the treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3245822  PMID: 22207824
Asthma; Current therapy; Herbal therapy; Poly herbal formulations; Ayurvedic drugs; Medicinal plants
11.  Severe asthma and the omalizumab option 
Atopic diseases and asthma are increasing at a remarkable rate on a global scale. It is now well recognized that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The inflammatory process in many patients is driven by an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-dependent process. Mast cell activation and release of mediators, in response to allergen and IgE, results in a cascade response, culminating in B lymphocyte, T lymphocyte, eosinophil, fibroblast, smooth muscle cell and endothelial activation. This complex cellular interaction, release of cytokines, chemokines and growth factors and inflammatory remodeling of the airways leads to chronic asthma. A subset of patients develops severe airway disease which can be extremely morbid and even fatal. While many treatments are available for asthma, it is still a chronic and incurable disease, characterized by exacerbation, hospitalizations and associated adverse effects of medications. Omalizumab is a new option for chronic asthma that acts by binding to and inhibiting the effects of IgE, thereby interfering with one aspect of the asthma cascade reviewed earlier. This is a humanized monoclonal antibody against IgE that has been shown to have many beneficial effects in asthma. Use of omalizumab may be influenced by the cost of the medication and some reported adverse effects including the rare possibility of anaphylaxis. When used in selected cases and carefully, omalizumab provides a very important tool in disease management. It has been shown to have additional effects in urticaria, angioedema, latex allergy and food allergy, but the data is limited and the indications far from clear. In addition to decreasing exacerbations, it has a steroid sparing role and hence may decrease adverse effects in some patients on high-dose glucocorticoids. Studies have shown improvement in quality of life measures in asthma following the administration of omalizumab, but the effects on pulmonary function are surprisingly small, suggesting a disconnect between pulmonary function, exacerbations and quality of life. Anaphylaxis may occur rarely with this agent and appropriate precautions have been recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As currently practiced and as suggested by the new asthma guidelines, this biological agent is indicated in moderate or severe persistent allergic asthma (steps 5 and 6).
PMCID: PMC2478654  PMID: 18489791
12.  A detailed phenotypic analysis of immune cell populations in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of atopic asthmatics after segmental allergen challenge 
Atopic asthma is characterized by intermittent exacerbations triggered by exposure to allergen. Exacerbations are characterized by an acute inflammatory reaction in the airways, with recruitment of both innate and adaptive immune cells. These cell populations as well as soluble factors are critical for initiating and controlling the inflammatory processes in allergic asthma. Detailed data on the numbers and types of cells recruited following allergen challenge is lacking. In this paper we present an extensive phenotypic analysis of the inflammatory cell infiltrate present in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid following bronchoscopically directed allergen challenge in mild atopic asthmatics.
A re-analysis of pooled data obtained prior to intervention in our randomized, placebo controlled, double blinded study (costimulation inhibition in asthma trial [CIA]) was performed. Twenty-four subjects underwent bronchoscopically directed segmental allergen challenge followed by BAL collection 48 hours later. The BAL fluid was analyzed by multi-color flow cytometry for immune cell populations and multi-plex ELISA for cytokine detection.
Allergen instillation induced pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6) and immune modulating cytokines (IL-2, IFN-γ, and IL-10) along with an increase in lymphocytes and suppressor cells (Tregs and MDSC). Interestingly, membrane expression of CD30 was identified on lymphocytes, especially Tregs, but not eosinophils. Soluble CD30 was also detected in the BAL fluid after allergen challenge in adult atopic asthmatics.
After segmental allergen challenge of adult atopic asthmatics, cell types associated with a pro-inflammatory as well as an anti-inflammatory response are detected within the BAL fluid of the lung.
PMCID: PMC3848528  PMID: 24330650
T lymphocyte; CD30 expression; Segmental allergen challenge; Asthma
13.  Adenosine A1 Receptor Antagonist Versus Montelukast on Airway Reactivity and Inflammation 
European journal of pharmacology  2006;551(1-3):116-124.
Adenosine produces bronchoconstriction in allergic rabbits, primates, and humans by activating adenosine A1 receptors. Previously, it is reported that a high dose of L-97-1, a water-soluble, small molecule adenosine A1 receptor antagonist, blocks early and late allergic responses, and bronchial hyper-responsiveness to histamine in a hyper-responsive rabbit model of allergic asthma. Effects of a lower dose of L-97-1 are compared to montelukast, a cysteinyl leukotriene-1 receptor antagonist on early allergic response, late allergic response, bronchial hyper-responsiveness, and inflammatory cells in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid following house dust mite administration. Rabbits received intraperitoneal injections of house dust mite extract within 24 h of birth followed by booster house dust mite injections. Hyper-responsive rabbits received aerosolized house dust mite (2500 allergen units), 1 h after intragastric administration of L-97-1 (1 mg/kg) or montelukast (0.15 mg/kg) and lung dynamic compliance was measured for 6 h. Lung dynamic compliance was significantly higher following L-97-1 at all time points and with montelukast at 60-300 min following house dust mite (P < 0.05). L-97-1 blocks both early and late allergic responses. Montelukast blocks only the late allergic response. Both L-97-1 and montelukast significantly blocked bronchial hyper-responsiveness at 24 h (P < 0.05). Both L-97-1 and montelukast significantly reduced BAL eosinophils at 6 h and neutrophils at 6 and 24 h (P < 0.05). L-97-1 significantly reduced BAL lymphocytes at 6 and 24 h (P < 0.05). Montelukast significantly reduced BAL macrophages at 6 and 24 h (P < 0.05). By blocking both bronchoconstriction and airway inflammation, L-97-1 may be an effective oral anti-asthma treatment.
PMCID: PMC1766326  PMID: 17027749
Adenosine A1 receptor; Asthma; Inflammation; Bronchial hyper-responsiveness; Airway; Allergen
14.  Genetic ancestry modifies pharmacogenetic gene–gene interaction for asthma 
Pharmacogenetics and genomics  2009;19(7):489-496.
A recent admixture mapping analysis identified interleukin 6 (IL6) and IL6 receptor (IL6R) as candidate genes for inflammatory diseases. In the airways during allergic inflammation, IL6 signaling controls the production of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors. In addition, albuterol, a commonly prescribed asthma therapy, has been shown to influence IL6 gene expression. Therefore, we reasoned that interactions between the IL6 and IL6R genes might be associated with bronchodilator drug responsiveness to albuterol in asthmatic patients.
Four functional IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a nonsynonymous IL6R SNP were genotyped in 700 Mexican and Puerto Rican asthma families and in 443 African-American asthma cases and controls. Both family-based association tests and linear regression models were used to assess the association between individual SNPs and haplotypes with bronchodilator response. Gene–gene interactions were tested by using multiple linear regression analyses.
No single SNP was consistently associated with drug response in all the three populations. However, on the gene level, we found a consistent IL6 and IL6R pharmacogenetic interaction in the three populations. This pharmacogenetic gene–gene interaction was contextual and dependent upon ancestry (racial background). This interaction resulted in higher drug response to albuterol in Latinos, but lower drug response in African-Americans. Herein, we show that there is an effect modification by ancestry on bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol.
Genetic variants in the IL6 and IL6R genes act synergistically to modify the bronchodilator drug responsiveness in asthma and this pharmacogenetic interaction is modified by the genetic ancestry.
PMCID: PMC2768127  PMID: 19503017
asthma genetics; African-Americans; ancestry; effect modification; gene–gene interaction; IL6; IL6 receptor; latinos
15.  Omalizumab in the management of patients with allergic (IgE-mediated) asthma 
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is central to the pathophysiology of allergic asthma. Omalizumab, an anti-IgE monoclonal antibody, binds to the FcɛRI binding site on free IgE. As a result, circulating free IgE is reduced, IgE is prevented from attaching to mast cells and basophils, and FcɛRI receptor expression is down-regulated. The inflammatory response to allergens and the acute and chronic effector phases of allergic inflammation are thereby attenuated. In clinical trials in adults and adolescents, omalizumab reduced asthma exacerbations, severe asthma exacerbations, inhaled corticosteroid requirements, and emergency visits, as well as significantly improving asthma-related quality of life, morning peak expiratory flow and asthma symptom scores in patients with severe allergic (IgE-mediated) asthma. Results from clinical trials in children (<12 years) are consistent with those in the adult population. It is difficult to predict which patients will respond to omalizumab. Responders to omalizumab should be identified after a 16-week trial of therapy using the physician’s overall assessment. When treatment is targeted to these responders, omalizumab provides a cost-effective therapy for inadequately controlled severe allergic (IgE-mediated) asthma. Long-term therapy with omalizumab shows the potential for disease-modification in asthma. Ongoing studies are also evaluating the use of omalizumab in other non-asthma IgE-mediated conditions.
PMCID: PMC3048609  PMID: 21437144
omalizumab; IgE; allergic asthma
16.  Ultrafine particles affect the balance of endogenous pro- and anti-inflammatory lipid mediators in the lung: in-vitro and in-vivo studies 
Exposure to ultrafine particles exerts diverse harmful effects including aggravation of pulmonary diseases like asthma. Recently we demonstrated in a mouse model for allergic airway inflammation that particle-derived oxidative stress plays a crucial role during augmentation of allergen-induced lung inflammation by ultrafine carbon particle (UfCP) inhalation. The mechanisms how particle inhalation might change the inflammatory balance in the lungs, leading to accelerated inflammatory reactions, remain unclear. Lipid mediators, known to be immediately generated in response to tissue injury, might be strong candidates for priming this particle-triggered change of the inflammatory balance.
We hypothesize that inhalation of UfCP may disturb the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory lipid mediators in: i) a model for acute allergic pulmonary inflammation, exposing mice for 24 h before allergen challenge to UfCP inhalation (51.7 nm, 507 μg/m3), and ii) an in-vitro model with primary rat alveolar macrophages (AM) incubated with UfCP (10 μg/1 x 106 cells/ml) for 1 h. Lungs and AM were analysed for pro- and anti-inflammatory lipid mediators, namely leukotriene B4 (LTB4), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), 15(S)-hydroxy-eicosatetraenoic acid (15(S)-HETE), lipoxin A4 (LXA4) and oxidative stress marker 8-isoprostane by enzyme immunoassays and immunohistochemistry.
In non-sensitized mice UfCP exposure induced a light non-significant increase of all lipid mediators. Similarly but significantly in rat AM all lipid mediators were induced already within 1 h of UfCP stimulation. Also sensitized and challenge mice exposed to filtered air showed a partially significant increase in all lipid mediators. In sensitized and challenged mice UfCP exposure induced highest significant levels of all lipid mediators in the lungs together with the peak of allergic airway inflammation on day 7 after UfCP inhalation. The levels of LTB4, 8-isoprostane and PGE2 were significantly increased also one day after UfCP exposure. Immunohistochemistry localized highest concentrations of PGE2 especially in AM one day after UfCP exposure.
Our results suggest that UfCP exposure affects the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory lipid mediators. In allergic mice, where the endogenous balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators is already altered, UfCP exposure aggravates the inflammation and the increase in anti-inflammatory, pro-resolving lipid mediators is insufficient to counterbalance the extensive inflammatory response. This may be a contributing mechanism that explains the increased susceptibility of asthmatic patients towards particle exposure.
PMCID: PMC3508980  PMID: 22809365
Lipid mediators; Particulate matter; Inflammation; Allergy
17.  Effect of a leukotriene B4 receptor antagonist, LY293111, on allergen induced responses in asthma. 
Thorax  1996;51(12):1178-1184.
BACKGROUND: Leukotriene (LT) B4 is a potent neutrophil chemoattractant and also stimulates eosinophils in vitro, but its role in asthmatic inflammation is unknown. METHODS: The effect of the novel LTB4 receptor antagonist, LY293111, was examined using allergen challenge as a model for asthmatic inflammation in 12 atopic asthmatic subjects in a double blind placebo controlled crossover trial. Subjects with an established early (EAR) and late asthmatic response (LAR) to allergen at screening received oral LY293111 in a dose of 112 mg three times daily for seven days or placebo before further allergen challenge. Each treatment was separated by a washout period of 28 days. Individuals underwent histamine challenge one hour before and three hours after allergen challenge. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was obtained at bronchoscopy 24 hours after allergen challenge. RESULTS: There was no difference in baseline lung function, EAR, LAR, or in airway responsiveness to histamine before and after allergen between placebo and LY293111. By contrast, treatment with LY293111 significantly reduced the number of neutrophils in BAL fluid expressed as both absolute cell numbers and percentage cell differential counts: absolute cell counts, median (range) 0.04 (0.02-0.15) x 10(6) after LY293111, 0.09 (0.02-0.43) x 10(6) after placebo; percentage differential cell counts 0.35 (0.1-2.0) after LY293111, 0.80 (0.1-3.6) after placebo (p < 0.05). Eosinophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes in BAL fluid did not differ between treatments. There was a significant reduction in the concentration of myeloperoxidase (MPO) with both placebo (16 (6.6) ng/ml) and LY293111 (3.5 (1.8) ng/ml) and of LTB4 (placebo 4.6 (1.2) pg/ml, LY293111 2.2 (0.2) pg/ml). Concentrations of LTC4 and interleukin 8 were reduced, although not significantly, whereas concentrations of interleukin 6, GM-CSF, and TNF-alpha were unchanged by LY293111. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate an influence of LTB4 on neutrophil influx and activation in the airway following allergen challenge. Despite this anti-inflammatory effect, there was no measured physiological benefit and this questions the functional role of the neutrophil in the pathophysiology of allergen induced asthma.
PMCID: PMC472760  PMID: 8994512
18.  Effect of cyclosporin A on the allergen-induced late asthmatic reaction 
Thorax  1997;52(5):447-452.
BACKGROUND: The allergen-induced late asthmatic reaction (LAR) is associated with mucosal inflammation involving several cell types including activated T lymphocytes and eosinophils. In contrast, the early asthmatic reaction (EAR) is considered to results from rapid allergen-induced release of bronchoconstrictor mediators from IgE sensitised mast cells. Cyclosporin A has efficacy in chronic severe corticosteroid-dependent asthma and is believed to act principally by inhibiting cytokine mRNA transcription in T lymphocytes. However, it has effects on other cell types in vitro, including the inhibition of exocytosis/degranulation events in mast cells. It was therefore hypothesised that cyclosporin A would attenuate both the EAR and LAR in subjects with mild asthma. METHODS: Twelve sensitised atopic asthmatic subjects with documented dual asthmatic responses were studied in a double blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial. On two separate study visits subjects received two oral doses of either cyclosporin A or matched placebo before inhaled allergen challenges. The forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was measured half hourly for eight hours and blood eosinophil counts were analysed three, six, and 24 hours after the challenge. Treatment effects on blood eosinophil counts as well as the EAR and LAR, respectively defined as the areas under the curve (AUC) of FEV1 changes from baseline between 0-1 and 4-8 hours after challenge, were compared by non-parametric crossover analysis. RESULTS: Cyclosporin A reduced both the LAR (median AUC -41.9 1.h (interquartile range -82.7 to -12.4) for cyclosporin A and -84.5 1.h (-248.9 to -39.1) for placebo; p = 0.007) and the late increase in blood eosinophils (median 0.2 x 10(9)/1 (0.15 to 0.4) for cyclosporin A and 0.4 x 10(9)/1 (0.25 to 0.55) for placebo; p = 0.024) but had no effect on the EAR. The reduction of the LAR by cyclosporin A correlated significantly with prechallenge blood concentrations of cyclosporin A (r = 0.6, p = 0.028). CONCLUSIONS: These data are consistent with the concept that cyclosporin A has anti-inflammatory actions in asthma resulting from inhibition of mRNA transcription of eosinophil-active cytokines, predominantly in T lymphocytes. Cyclosporin A, possibly in its inhaled form, or other agents which prevent cytokine gene transcription may therefore have potential in ameliorating the inflammatory component of asthma. 

PMCID: PMC1758561  PMID: 9176537
19.  155 Omalizumab Improves Asthma but not Nasal Symptoms in Japanese Patients With Severe Allergic Asthma and Rhinitis 
There is evidence that humanized monoclonal antibody against IgE (Omalizumab) is effective in severe allergic asthma. In this study, we examined the effectiveness of omalizumab on asthma and nasal symptoms in Japanese patients with severe allergic asthma and rhinitis.
An open-label study that enrolled 7 patients with both severe allergic asthma and rhinitis who visited Allergy Center, Saitama Medical University was performed. All patients presented uncontrolled asthma despite medication including high-dose inhalational corticosteroids, long-acting beta2-agonist, leukotriene receptor antagonist, theophylline, and oral predonisolone. Omalizumab was added on their treatments and symptoms score using Asthma Contol Test (ACT), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), sputum eosinophils and nasal symptoms were evaluated before and 12 to 16 weeks after omalizumab.
Omalizumab significantly improved ACT scores especially dose of rescue use of short-acting beta2-agonist (P < 0.05) and PEFR (P < 0.05). Furthermore, omalizumab significantly decreased exhaled both eNO (P < 0.05) and the percentage of eosinophils in induced sputum. On the other hand, nasal symptoms were not change following induction of omalizumab.
Clinical effectiveness of omalizumab was confirmed in Japanese population of severe allergic asthma, but not rhinitis. The therapeutic potency of omalizumab on asthma likely involves anti-inflammatory properties such as decreasing eNO or airway eosinophilia.
PMCID: PMC3513114
20.  Beta-escin has potent anti-allergic efficacy and reduces allergic airway inflammation 
BMC Immunology  2010;11:24.
Type I hypersensitivity is characterized by the overreaction of the immune system against otherwise innocuous substances. It manifests as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma or atopic dermatitis if mast cells are activated in the respective organs. In case of systemic mast cell activation, life-threatening anaphylaxis may occur. Currently, type I hypersensitivities are treated either with glucocorticoids, anti-histamines, or mast cell stabilizers. Although these drugs exert a strong anti-allergic effect, their long-term use may be problematic due to their side-effects.
In the course of a routine in vitro screening process, we identified beta-escin as a potentially anti-allergic compound. Here we tested beta-escin in two mouse models to confirm this anti-allergic effect in vivo. In a model of the early phase of allergic reactions, the murine passive cutaneous anaphylaxis model, beta-escin inhibited the effects of mast cell activation and degranulation in the skin and dose-dependently prevented the extravasation of fluids into the tissue. Beta-escin also significantly inhibited the late response after antigen challenge in a lung allergy model with ovalbumin-sensitized mice. Allergic airway inflammation was suppressed, which was exemplified by the reduction of leucocytes, eosinophils, IL-5 and IL-13 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Histopathological examinations further confirmed the reduced inflammation of the lung tissue. In both models, the inhibitory effect of beta-escin was comparable to the benchmark dexamethasone.
We demonstrated in two independent murine models of type I hypersensitivity that beta-escin has potent anti-allergic properties. These results and the excellent safety profile of beta-escin suggest a therapeutic potential of this compound for a novel treatment of allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2898835  PMID: 20487574
21.  Suppression of GATA-3 Nuclear Import and Phosphorylation: A Novel Mechanism of Corticosteroid Action in Allergic Disease 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000076.
Peter Barnes and colleagues show that corticosteroids have a potent inhibitory effect on GATA-3 via two interacting mechanisms that suppress Th2 cytokine expression. This novel mechanism of corticosteroid action may help explain the efficacy of corticosteroids in allergic diseases.
GATA-3 plays a critical role in regulating the expression of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-13 from T helper-2 (Th2) cells and therefore is a key mediator of allergic diseases. Corticosteroids are highly effective in suppressing allergic inflammation, but their effects on GATA-3 are unknown. We investigated the effect of the corticosteroid fluticasone propionate on GATA-3 regulation in human T-lymphocytes in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Findings
In a T lymphocyte cell line (HuT-78) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated by anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 in vitro we demonstrated that fluticasone inhibits nuclear translocation of GATA-3 and expression of Th2 cytokines via a mechanism independent of nuclear factor-κB and is due, in part, to competition between GATA-3 and the ligand-activated glucocorticoid receptor for nuclear transport through the nuclear importer importin-α. In addition, fluticasone induces the expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase-1 (MKP-1), the endogenous inhibitor of p38 MAPK, which is necessary for GATA-3 nuclear translocation. These inhibitory effects of fluticasone are rapid, potent, and prolonged. We also demonstrated that inhaled fluticasone inhibits GATA-3 nuclear translocation in peripheral blood lymphocytes of patients with asthma in vivo.
Corticosteroids have a potent inhibitory effect on GATA-3 via two interacting mechanisms that potently suppress Th2 cytokine expression. This novel mechanism of action of corticosteroids may account for the striking clinical efficacy of corticosteroids in the treatment of allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. When one of these foreign invaders enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on the invader's surface and release chemical messengers (cytokines) that recruit and activate other types of immune cell, which then attack the invader. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to a normally harmless material (for example, house-dust mites or grass pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as asthma or hay fever. Contact with an allergen activates a type of T lymphocyte called a T helper-2 (Th2) cell that subsequently makes (expresses) three cytokines called interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, and IL-13. These cytokines ultimately cause inflammation (swelling) of the part of the body exposed to the allergen. Corticosteroids, which suppress the expression of cytokines by Th2 cells, are often used to treat inflammation in allergic diseases. Other treatments for these common conditions—about 50 million people in the US have an allergic disease—include minimizing exposure to allergens and diminishing the response of the immune system to allergens by using various immunotherapies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists know that corticosteroids reduce allergic inflammation by binding to proteins in immune system cells called glucocorticoid receptors. After binding to a corticosteroid, these receptors move into the nucleus of the cell (the part of the cell that contains its genes), where they suppress the expression of certain proinflammatory genes. However, it is still not known how corticosteroids inhibit the expression of Th2 cytokines. A key regulator of the expression of these cytokines and of allergic inflammation is a transcription factor called GATA-3. Transcription factors are proteins that control the expression of other proteins by binding to specific sequences in the genes that encode them. In this study, the researchers try to discover more about how corticosteroids reduce allergic inflammation by investigating the effects of the corticosteroid fluticasone on the regulation of GATA-3 activity in T lymphocytes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Transcription factors have to move into the nucleus of cells (so-called nuclear translocation) to control the expression of their target genes, so the researchers first asked whether fluticasone affects the cellular localization of GATA-3. Fluticasone treatment of activated T lymphocytes growing in dishes, they report, inhibited the nuclear translocation of GATA-3 and reduced Th2 cytokine expression. Other experiments showed that the inhibition of GATA-3 nuclear translocation was partly caused by competition between the glucocorticoid receptor bound to fluticasone and GATA-3 for binding to importin-α, a protein that is required for nuclear import. However, fluticasone also prevented the nuclear translocation of GATA-3 in a second way. Before GATA-3 can bind to importin-α, phosphate groups have to be added to specific sites in GATA-3. This “phosphorylation” requires an enzyme called p38 MAP kinase, and the researchers found that fluticasone treatment of activated T lymphocytes induced the expression of MAP kinase phophatase-1, a p38 MAP kinase inhibitor. Finally, when the researchers treated seven patients with mild asthma with inhaled fluticasone, they found that fluticasone also inhibited GATA-3 nuclear translocation in the lymphocytes circulating in the patients' blood.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings, obtained both in the laboratory and in patients, suggest that corticosteroids inhibit the expression of Th2 cytokines and thus reduce allergic inflammation through two interacting mechanisms. They suggest that corticosteroids prevent the nuclear translocation of GATA-3, a key regulator of Th2 cytokine expression, by competing with GATA-3 for binding to importin-α and by preventing the phosphorylation of GATA-3, a modification that allows GATA-3 to bind to importin-α. This dual mechanism of corticosteroid action may help to explain why these drugs are so effective in the treatment of allergic diseases, although further experiments are needed to show that the lymphocytes resident at sites of allergic inflammation respond to corticosteroids in the same way as lymphocytes in the blood. Finally, these findings suggest that the interaction between phosphorylated GATA-3 and importin-α might be a potential target for new treatments for allergic diseases.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on allergic diseases and a simple description of the immune system
The UK National Health Service Choices service provides information about allergies
Links to other information about allergies are available from MedlinePlus (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2674207  PMID: 19436703
22.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
23.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
24.  Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus rhamnosus treatment is as effective as budesonide at reducing inflammation in a murine model for chronic asthma 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):46.
Asthma is estimated to affect as many as 300 million people worldwide and its incidence and prevalence are rapidly increasing throughout the world, especially in children and within developing countries. Recently, there has been a growing interest in the use of potentially beneficial bacteria for allergic diseases. This study is aimed at exploring the therapeutic effects of long-term treatment with two different beneficial bacterial strains (Bifidobacterium breve M-16 V and Lactobacillus rhamnosus NutRes1) and a glucocorticoid (budesonide), as a reference treatment, on inflammatory response in a murine model for chronic allergic asthma.
To mimic the chronic disease in asthmatic patients, we used the murine ovalbumin-induced asthma model combined with prolonged allergen exposure. Airway function; pulmonary airway inflammation; airway remodelling, mRNA expression of pattern recognition receptors, Th-specific cytokines and transcription factors in lung tissue; mast cell degranulation; in vitro T cell activation; and expression of Foxp3 in blood Th cells were examined.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus reduced lung resistance to a similar extent as budesonide treatment in chronically asthmatic mice. Pulmonary airway inflammation, mast cell degranulation, T cell activation and airway remodelling were suppressed by all treatments. Beneficial bacteria and budesonide differentially modulated the expression of toll-like receptors (TLRs), nod-like receptors (NLRs), cytokines and T cell transcription factors. Bifidobacterium breve induced regulatory T cell responses in the airways by increasing Il10 and Foxp3 transcription in lung tissue as well as systemic by augmenting the mean fluorescence intensity of Foxp3 in blood CD4+ T cells.
These findings show that Bifidobacterium breve M-16 V and Lactobacillus rhamnosus NutRes1 have strong anti-inflammatory properties that are comparable to budesonide and therefore may be beneficial in the treatment of chronic asthma.
PMCID: PMC4029990  PMID: 24735374
Allergic asthma; Beneficial bacteria; Glucocorticoids; Regulatory T cell
25.  Asthma Medications: Basic Pharmacology and Use in the Athlete 
Journal of Athletic Training  2000;35(2):179-187.
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects athletes at all levels of sport. Several categories of drugs, including relatively new agents, are available to treat the asthmatic patient. By understanding the appropriate uses and effects of these drugs, the athletic trainer can assist the asthmatic athlete in improving therapeutic outcomes from the asthma therapy. The appropriate use of these medications includes not only the use of the appropriate drug(s), but also appropriate technique for administration, compliance with the prescribed dosing intervals, and sufficient care to avoid side effects.
Data Sources:
I searched MEDLINE and CINAHL from 1982 to 1999 and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts from 1990 to 1999. Terms searched were “asthma,” “athlete,”“athletic,” “exercise-induced,” “exercise,” “performance,” “therapy,” and “treatment.”
Data Synthesis:
Bronchodilators include β2 agonists, anticholinergics, and methylxanthines. Of these, the β2 agonists used by inhalation are the drugs of choice to treat an acute asthma attack or to prevent an anticipated attack (such as before exercise). Anti-inflammatory agents include corticosteroids mast cell-stabilizing agents, and antileukotrienes. Corticosteroids by inhalation are the drugs of choice for long-term treatment to curb the inflammatory process in the lung. Each of these drug categories has a unique mechanism of action. The athletic trainer who understands the appropriate use of these medications can help the athlete to obtain optimal results from drug therapy. Encouraging the athlete to comply with appropriate therapy, monitoring the effectiveness of the therapy, and recognizing the stimuli that initiate asthmatic attacks can improve the patient's therapeutic outcomes.
The athletic trainer has an opportunity to play a key role in ensuring that the asthmatic athlete achieves the desired outcomes from treatment. The athletic trainer can help to minimize the effect of asthma on athletic performance by ensuring that the athlete uses inhaler devices properly, is compliant with the prescribed drug therapy, monitors pulmonary function appropriately, uses medications properly before exercise, and is aware of the factors that initiate asthma symptoms.
PMCID: PMC1323415  PMID: 16558628
exercise induced; therapy; bronchospasm

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