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1.  Allergy, Asthma, and Inflammation: Which Inflammatory Cell Type Is More Important? 
A recent review in Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology suggested that eosinophils play a minor role, if any, in the inflammatory spectrum of asthma and allergic inflammation. The article that dealt with mast cells suggested that the presence of these important cells within the smooth muscle layer in asthmatic airways renders this cell type primal in asthma and an obvious and important target for therapy. This article proposes that in a complex inflammatory milieu characterizing the complex syndromes we call asthma, no single cell phenotype is responsible for the condition and thus should be a sole target for therapeutic strategies. Our reductionist approach to research in asthma and related conditions has provided us with convincing evidence for multiple roles that immune, inflammatory, and structural cell types can play in complex diseases. The next stage in understanding and ameliorating these complex conditions is to move away from the simplistic notion of one cell type being more important than another. Instead, what is needed is to acquire knowledge of intricate and exquisite biological systems that regulate such conditions in both health and disease involving various cell types, mediators, pharmacologically active products, their multifaceted capacities, and their socio-biological networking.
PMCID: PMC2868889  PMID: 20525138
Eosinophil; Mast cell; Th2; smooth muscle cell; mucosal immunity; eosinophilic bronchitis
2.  Aspirin-Exacerbated Asthma 
This review focuses on aspirin-exacerbated asthma (AEA). The review includes historical perspective of aspirin, prevalence, pathogenesis, clinical features and treatment of AEA. The pathogenesis of AEA involves the cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenase pathway. Aspirin affects both of these pathways by inhibiting the enzyme cycooxygenase-1 (COX-1). Inhibition of COX-1 leads to a decrease in prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). The decrease in PGE2 results in an increase in cysteinyl leukotrienes by the lipooxygenase pathway involving the enzyme 5-lipooxygenase (5-LO). Leukotriene C4 (LTC4) synthase is the enzyme responsible for the production of leukotriene C4, the chief cysteinyl leukotriene responsible for AEA. There have been familial occurences of AEA. An allele of the LTC4 synthase gene in AEA is known as allele C. Allele C has a higher frequency in AEA. Clinical presentation includes a history of asthma after ingestion of aspirin, nasal congestion, watery rhinorrhea and nasal polyposis. Treatment includes leukotriene receptor antagonists, leukotriene inhibitors, aspirin desinsitaztion and surgery. AEA is the most well-defined phenotype of asthma. Although AEA affects adults and children with physician-diagnosed asthma, in some cases there is no history of asthma and AEA often goes unrecognized and underdiagnosed.
PMCID: PMC2868885  PMID: 20525128
aspirin desensitization; aspirin exacerbated asthma; aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease; aspirin sensitive asthma; cysteinyl leukotriene; leukotriene; leukotriene C4; leukotriene C4 synthase
3.  Peanut Allergy: An Overview 
Peanut allergies have been increasing in prevalence in most industrialized countries. Onset is typically in early childhood, with a trend towards earlier ages of presentation. The allergy is lifelong in most affected children, although 15-22% will outgrow their peanut allergy, usually before their teenage years. Manifestations of peanut allergy range from mild to severe, and risk factors predisposing to severe reactions are discussed. However, even in the absence of risk factors, peanut allergic individuals may still experience life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. Approaches to investigation and treatment, patterns of cross-reactivity and possible causes of rising prevalence are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2868887  PMID: 20525136
peanut; allergy; anaphylaxis; nuts
4.  Should Younger Siblings of Peanut-Allergic Children Be Assessed by an Allergist before Being Fed Peanut? 
The objective of this study was to determine the risk of peanut allergy in siblings of peanut-allergic children. In 2005-2006, 560 households of children born in 1995 in the province of Manitoba, Canada, were surveyed. The index children (8-to 10-year-olds) were assessed by a pediatric allergist and had skin-prick testing and/or capRAST for peanut allergy. Surveys were completed by parents for siblings to determine the presence of peanut allergy. Of 560 surveys, 514 (92%) were completed. Twenty-nine (5.6%) index children were peanut allergic. Fifteen of 900 (1.7%) siblings had peanut allergy. Four of 47 (8.5%) were siblings of peanut-allergic children and 11 of 853 (1.3%) were siblings of non-peanut-allergic children. The risk of peanut allergy was markedly increased in siblings of a peanut-allergic child (odds ratio 6.72, 95% confidence interval 2.04-22.12). Siblings of peanut-allergic children are much more likely to be allergic to peanut. An allergy assessment by a qualified allergist should be routinely recommended before feeding peanut to these children.
PMCID: PMC2868888  PMID: 20525137
allergy tests; cohort study; odds ratio; peanut allergy; siblings
5.  Patterns of Expression of Vaginal T-Cell Activation Markers during Estrogen-Maintained Vaginal Candidiasis 
The immunosuppressive activity of estrogen was further investigated by assessing the pattern of expression of CD25, CD28, CD69, and CD152 on vaginal T cells during estrogen-maintained vaginal candidiasis. A precipitous and significant decrease in vaginal fungal burden toward the end of week 3 postinfection was concurrent with a significant increase in vaginal lymphocyte numbers. During this period, the percentage of CD3+, CD3+CD4+, CD152+, and CD28+ vaginal T cells gradually and significantly increased. The percentage of CD3+ and CD3+CD4+ cells increased from 43% and 15% at day 0 to 77% and 40% at day 28 postinfection. Compared with 29% CD152+ vaginal T cells in naive mice, > 70% of vaginal T cells were CD152+ at day 28 postinfection. In conclusion, estrogen-maintained vaginal candidiasis results in postinfection time-dependent changes in the pattern of expression of CD152, CD28, and other T-cell markers, suggesting that T cells are subject to mixed suppression and activation signals.
PMCID: PMC2868890  PMID: 20525139
CD28; CD152; estrogen; vaginal candidiasis; vaginal T lymphocytes
6.  Assessing and Treating Work-Related Asthma 
Work-related asthma is asthma that is caused or exacerbated by exposures at work. It is the most common form of occupational lung disease in developed countries. It has important impacts on the health and well-being of the affected individual, as well as consequences for society because of unemployment issues and workers' compensation claims. With ongoing exposure, occupational asthma can result in persistent airway hyperresponsiveness and, possibly, permanent disability for the individual. Thus, it is important for the clinician to be able to diagnose this disorder as quickly and accurately as possible. The evaluation of a patient with work-related asthma can be extensive. It includes obtaining a consistent history, identifying the cause in the workplace, and confirming the diagnosis with objective tests. After a diagnosis has been made, treatment must sometimes go beyond the medications used for nonoccupational asthma and include interventions to minimize or completely remove the individual from exposure to the causal agent if he or she has sensitizer-induced occupational asthma. In addition, once an individual has been identified with occupational asthma, steps should be taken to prevent the development of this disorder in other workers. The purpose of this article is to review the current literature and provide the clinician with a stepwise approach to the diagnosis and management of a patient with work-related asthma.
PMCID: PMC2868891  PMID: 20525140
airways; asthma; diagnosis; irritant; occupational; review; sensitizer; treatment; work
7.  Nature of Regulatory T Cells in the Context of Allergic Disease 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is the cornerstone of the management of allergic diseases, which targets modification of the immunologic response, along with environmental allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy. SIT is associated with improved tolerance to allergen challenge, with a decrease in immediate-phase and late-phase allergic inflammation. SIT has the potential to prevent development of new sensitizations and progression of allergic rhinitis to asthma. It has a role in cellular and humoral responses in a modified pattern. The ratio of T helper (Th)1 cytokines to Th2 cytokines is increased following SIT, and functional regulatory T cells are induced. Interleukin-10 production by monocytes, macrophages, and B and T cells is increased, as well as expression of transforming growth factor β. SIT is associated with increases in allergen-specific antibodies in IgA, IgG1, and IgG4 isotypes. These blocking-type immunoglobulins, particularly IgG4, may compete with IgE binding to allergen, decreasing the allergen presentation with the high- and low-affinity receptors for IgE (FcεRI and FcεRII, respectively). Additionally, SIT reduces the number of mast cells and eosinophils in the target tissues and release of mediators from these cells.
PMCID: PMC2868864  PMID: 20525131
dendritic cells; mucosal tolerance; regulatory T cells; allergen-specific immunotherapy
8.  Atypical Bacteria and Macrolides in Asthma 
Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae are common pathogens causing acute illness in both the upper and lower airways. Several observations are supportive of a possible causative role of these pathogens in asthma; however, more evidence is required before this becomes meaningful in clinical practice. Atypical bacteria can enhance airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation, both of which have been associated with exacerbations in patients with preexisting asthma. It is less clear whether the above mechanisms might also be responsible for the development of asthma. Difficulties in accurately diagnosing these infections contribute to such uncertainty. In the present report, evidence of the involvement of Chlamydophila and Mycoplasma infection in the development and the progression of asthma are reviewed.
PMCID: PMC2868865  PMID: 20525132
asthma; Chlamydophila pneumoniae; Mycoplasma pneumoniae
9.  The Changing Microbial Environment and Chronic Inflammatory Disorders 
There is much to be gained from examining human diseases within the expanding framework of Darwinian medicine. This is particularly true of those conditions that change in frequency as populations develop from the human "environment of evolutionary adaptedness" to the living conditions of the rich industrialized countries. This development entails major changes in lifestyle, leading to reductions in contact with environmental microorganisms and helminths that have evolved a physiologic role as drivers of immunoregulatory circuits. It is suggested that a deficit in immunoregulation in rich countries is contributing not only to increases in the incidence of allergic disorders but also to increases in other chronic inflammatory conditions that are exacerbated by a failure to terminate inappropriate inflammatory reponses. These include autoimmunity, neuroinflammatory disorders, atherosclerosis, depression associated with raised inflammatory cytokines, and some cancers.
PMCID: PMC2868866  PMID: 20525133
10.  Evaluating the Safety of Intranasal Steroids in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis 
Given that intranasal corticosteroids (INCs) are widely considered first-line therapies for treatment of rhinitis, it is important for the clinician to be comfortable with the side-effect profile and be able to discuss potential safety concerns regarding these therapies. Among the safety concerns with the use of INCs are the potential for growth suppression both short and long term, the potential for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression, ocular safety, and the use of INCs concomitantly with inhaled corticosteroids in asthma patients. As all clinicians are aware, each patient can have individual responses to both efficacy and safety; however, the data reviewed suggest that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. Understanding the potential concerns and the data behind these concerns should give clinicians the information to be able to discuss this with patients and parents to incorporate appropriate therapy for those with allergic rhinitis
PMCID: PMC2868867  PMID: 20525134
allergic rhinitis; intranasal corticosteroids; safety; treatment
11.  Ragweed as an Example of Worldwide Allergen Expansion 
Multiple factors are contributing to the expansion of ragweed on a worldwide scale. This review seeks to examine factors that may contribute to allergen expansion with reference to ragweed as a well-studied example. It is our hope that increased surveillance for new pollens in areas not previously affected and awareness of the influence the changing environment plays in allergic disease will lead to better outcomes in susceptible patients.
PMCID: PMC2868868  PMID: 20525135
allergens; allergen expansion; CO2; global warming; ozone; ragweed
12.  Chitosan Interferon-γ Nanogene Therapy for Lung Disease: Modulation of T-Cell and Dendritic Cell Immune Responses 
The use of chitosan nanoparticles as carriers for expression plasmids represents a major improvement in gene expression technology. We demonstrated previously that treatment with chitosan interferon-γ (IFN-γ) plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nanoparticles (chitosan interferon-γ nanogene [CIN]) led to in situ production of IFN-γ and a reduction in inflammation and airway reactivity in mice, but the mechanism underlying the immunomodulatory effects of CIN remains unclear. In this report, the effect of CIN treatment on the immune responses of CD8+ T cells and dendritic cells was examined in a BALB/c mouse model of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic asthma. OT1 mice (OVA-T cell receptor [TCR] transgenic) were also used to test the effects of CIN on OVA-specific CD8+ T cells. CIN treatment caused a reduction in IFN-γ production in a subpopulation of OVA-specific CD8+ T cells cultured in vitro in the presence of OVA. CIN also reduced apoptosis of the CD8+ T cells. Examination of dendritic cells from lung and lymph nodes indicated that CIN treatment decreased their antigen-presenting activity, as evident from the reduction in CD80 and CD86 expression. Furthermore, CIN treatment significantly decreased the number of CD11c+b+ dendritic cells in lymph nodes, suggesting that endogenous IFN-γ expression may immunomodulate dendritic cell migration and activation. CIN therapy results in a reduction in proinflammatory CD8+ T cells and decreases the number and antigen-presenting activity of dendritic cells.
PMCID: PMC2868869  PMID: 20525130
allergy; asthma; interferon
13.  Is Obesity Associated with an Increased Risk for Airway Hyperresponsiveness and Development of Asthma? 
We investigated the association between airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and obesity in adults referred for confirmation of asthma diagnosis. Data were analyzed for obesity class I (body mass index [BMI] 30-34.9 kg/m2), class II (BMI ≥ 35-39.9 kg/m2), and class III (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2). Of 861 subjects, 401 demonstrated AHR; the mean dose of methacholine was 4.16 ± 2.55 mg/mL. A significant association between obesity and AHR was evident for all subjects: the odds ratio was 1.37 (95% CI 1.02-1.82; p = .0317). One unit of increased BMI (1 kg/m2) was associated with a 3.1% increase in AHR risk (95% CI 1.01-1.05, p < .005). The odds ratio increased from 1.86 (95% CI 1.27-1.76; p = .0012) for class I to 2.61 (95% CI 1.48-4.60; p = .0006) for class III. Obesity was found to be associated with AHR and appears to be a risk factor for asthma.
PMCID: PMC2868882  PMID: 20525125
airway hyperresponsiveness; asthma; obesity
14.  Occupational Contact Dermatitis 
Occupational contact dermatitis accounts for 90% of all cases of work-related cutaneous disorders. It can be divided into irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs in 80% of cases, and allergic contact dermatitis. In most cases, both types will present as eczematous lesions on exposed parts of the body, notably the hands. Accurate diagnosis relies on meticulous history taking, thorough physical examination, careful reading of Material Safety Data Sheets to distinguish between irritants and allergens, and comprehensive patch testing to confirm or rule out allergic sensitization. This article reviews the pathogenesis and clinical manifestations of occupational contact dermatitis and provides diagnostic guidelines and a rational approach to management of these often frustrating cases.
PMCID: PMC2868883  PMID: 20525126
allergic contact dermatitis; irritant contact dermatitis; occupational; work related
15.  Patch Testing in Non-Immediate Drug Eruptions 
The present review addresses the literature regarding the sensitivity and specificity of the various diagnostic methods for evaluating non-immediate (ie, occurring more than 1 hour after drug administration) hypersensitivity reactions associated with β-lactams and other antibiotics, anticonvulsants, heparins, iodinated contrast media, etc. Such reactions include several clinical entities, which range from mild reactions, such as maculopapular rash and delayed-appearing urticaria, to severe ones, such as acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Clinical and laboratory studies indicate that a cell-mediated pathogenic mechanism is often involved in maculopapular rashes. However, this mechanism has also been demonstrated in other non-immediate reactions, such as urticarial and/or angioedematous manifestations, TEN, bullous exanthems, and AGEP. Patch tests, together with delayed-reading intradermal tests, lymphocyte transformation tests, and challenges, are useful tools for evaluating non-immediate drug eruptions. Patch tests can be performed with any form of commercial drugs and are safer than intradermal tests. However, patch tests are less sensitive than intradermal tests, and their sensitivity may vary, depending on the vehicle used.
PMCID: PMC2868884  PMID: 20525127
delayed-reading intradermal tests; non-immediate reactions; patch tests
16.  Asthma: Eosinophil Disease, Mast Cell Disease, or Both? 
Although there is much circumstantial evidence implicating eosinophils as major orchestrators in the pathophysiology of asthma, recent studies have cast doubt on their importance. Not only does anti-interleukin-5 treatment not alter the course of the disease, but some patients with asthma do not have eosinophils in their airways, whereas patients with eosinophilic bronchitis exhibit a florid tissue eosinophilia but do not have asthma. In contrast, mast cells are found in all airways and localize specifically to key tissue structures such as the submucosal glands and airway smooth muscle within asthmatic bronchi, irrespective of disease severity or phenotype. Here they are activated and interact exclusively with these structural cells via adhesive pathways and through the release of soluble mediators acting across the distance of only a few microns. The location of mast cells within the airway smooth muscle bundles seems particularly important for the development and propagation of asthma, perhaps occurring in response to, and then serving to aggravate, an underlying abnormality in asthmatic airway smooth muscle function. Targeting this mast cell-airway smooth muscle interaction in asthma offers exciting prospects for the treatment of this common disease.
PMCID: PMC2868886  PMID: 20525129
asthma; eosinophil; mast cell
18.  Psychological Factors in Asthma 
Asthma has long been considered a condition in which psychological factors have a role. As in many illnesses, psychological variables may affect outcome in asthma via their effects on treatment adherence and symptom reporting. Emerging evidence suggests that the relation between asthma and psychological factors may be more complex than that, however. Central cognitive processes may influence not only the interpretation of asthma symptoms but also the manifestation of measurable changes in immune and physiologic markers of asthma. Furthermore, asthma and major depressive disorder share several risk factors and have similar patterns of dysregulation in key biologic systems, including the neuroendocrine stress response, cytokines, and neuropeptides. Despite the evidence that depression is common in people with asthma and exerts a negative impact on outcome, few treatment studies have examined whether improving symptoms of depression do, in fact, result in better control of asthma symptoms or improved quality of life in patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC2869336  PMID: 20525122
asthma; depression; pathophysiology; treatment
19.  Enhancing versus Suppressive Effects of Stress on Immune Function: Implications for Immunoprotection versus Immunopathology 
It is widely believed that stress suppresses immune function and increases susceptibility to infections and cancer. Paradoxically, stress is also known to exacerbate allergic, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. These observations suggest that stress may have bidirectional effects on immune function, being immunosuppressive in some instances and immunoenhancing in others. It has recently been shown that in contrast to chronic stress that suppresses or dysregulates immune function, acute stress can be immunoenhancing. Acute stress enhances dendritic cell, neutrophil, macrophage, and lymphocyte trafficking, maturation, and function and has been shown to augment innate and adaptive immune responses. Acute stress experienced prior to novel antigen exposure enhances innate immunity and memory T-cell formation and results in a significant and long-lasting immunoenhancement. Acute stress experienced during antigen reexposure enhances secondary/adaptive immune responses. Therefore, depending on the conditions of immune activation and the immunizing antigen, acute stress may enhance the acquisition and expression of immunoprotection or immunopathology. In contrast, chronic stress dysregulates innate and adaptive immune responses by changing the type 1-type 2 cytokine balance and suppresses immunity by decreasing leukocyte numbers, trafficking, and function. Chronic stress also increases susceptibility to skin cancer by suppressing type 1 cytokines and protective T cells while increasing suppressor T-cell function. We have suggested that the adaptive purpose of a physiologic stress response may be to promote survival, with stress hormones and neurotransmitters serving as beacons that prepare the immune system for potential challenges (eg, wounding or infection) perceived by the brain (eg, detection of an attacker). However, this system may exacerbate immunopathology if the enhanced immune response is directed against innocuous or self-antigens or dysregulated following prolonged activation, as seen during chronic stress. In view of the ubiquitous nature of stress and its significant effects on immunoprotection and immunopathology, it is important to further elucidate the mechanisms mediating stress-immune interactions and to meaningfully translate findings from bench to bedside.
PMCID: PMC2869337  PMID: 20525121
allergy; catecholamines; glucocorticoid/cortisol; immune surveillance; proinflammatory/autoimmune; psycho-neuroimmunology; vaccine
20.  Stress and Childhood Asthma Risk: Overlapping Evidence from Animal Studies and Epidemiologic Research 
Rapidly expanding evidence increasingly strengthens the evidence linking psychological factors to asthma and allergy expression. Parallel studies in animals and humans demonstrating the influence of prenatal maternal stress and early caregiving experiences on the disrupted regulation of defensive biological systems [eg, sympathetic and adrenomedullary (SAM) system and the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis] provide strong proof of concept for this line of research. The consequent altered neuroimmune responses may influence the expression of immune-mediated disorders such as asthma as well as enhance an individual's susceptibility to other environmental factors that may also contribute to asthma risk.
PMCID: PMC2869338  PMID: 20525123
asthma; childhood; interactions; prenatal; stress
21.  Epigenetics, Behaviour, and Health 
The long-term effects of behaviour and environmental exposures, particularly during childhood, on health outcomes are well documented. Particularly thought provoking is the notion that exposures to different social environments have a long-lasting impact on human physical health. However, the mechanisms mediating the effects of the environment are still unclear. In the last decade, the main focus of attention was the genome, and interindividual genetic polymorphisms were sought after as the principal basis for susceptibility to disease. However, it is becoming clear that recent dramatic increases in the incidence of certain human pathologies, such as asthma and type 2 diabetes, cannot be explained just on the basis of a genetic drift. It is therefore extremely important to unravel the molecular links between the "environmental" exposure, which is believed to be behind this emerging incidence in certain human pathologies, and the disease's molecular mechanisms. Although it is clear that most human pathologies involve long-term changes in gene function, these might be caused by mechanisms other than changes in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence. The genome is programmed by the epigenome, which is composed of chromatin and a covalent modification of DNA by methylation. It is postulated here that "epigenetic" mechanisms mediate the effects of behavioural and environmental exposures early in life, as well as lifelong environmental exposures and the susceptibility to disease later in life. In contrast to genetic sequence differences, epigenetic aberrations are potentially reversible, raising the hope for interventions that will be able to reverse deleterious epigenetic programming.
PMCID: PMC2869339  PMID: 20525124
autoimmune disease; demethylation; DNA methylation; epigenetics chromatin; epigenome; histone modification; maternal care; socioeconomic status

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