Cells that mediate steroid-resistant asthma identified by scientists at Children's Hospital

Sep 19, 2008

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC researchers have identified cells that may play a key role in some forms of steroid-resistant asthma, a complication of the condition that makes treatment even more challenging.

The identification of a lineage of cells known as T Helper Type 17 (Th17) may help scientists in the development of new treatments that lead to better control of asthma, according to the study's senior author, Jay K. Kolls, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology at Children's Hospital.

More than 22 million Americans (including 9 million children) are diagnosed with asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As many as 50 percent of them have asthma that can be resistant to steroids, which are intended to reduce lung inflammation during an asthma attack, Dr. Kolls said.

"Asthma is a challenging condition to treat. For many patients, if they take preventive medications regularly, the condition can be controlled and they can lead relatively normal lives," Dr. Kolls said. "Inhaled steroids are an important treatment for patients to prevent asthma attacks. Unfortunately, some patients have attacks despite the use of inhaled steroids, meaning they don't respond to steroids or they need such high doses that side effects are experienced."

In a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Immunology, Dr. Kolls and colleagues found that Th17 cells mediated steroid-resistant airway inflammation and hyper-responsiveness in animal models of asthma. Th17 cells are part of the immune system and are found where the body comes in contact with the external environment, such as the lungs and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

"Identifying Th17 cells as a potential mechanism by which steroid-resistant asthma gives us a potential new target for the development of drugs that focus on these cells and lead to better overall control of asthma," said Dr. Kolls, the Niels K. Jerne Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Source: Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Explore further: Doctors' checklist could help decrease length of COPD patients' hospital stay

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

19 hours ago

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

19 hours ago

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.