Study: Rare immune system cell could be primary asthma trigger

A study published in the March 16, 2006 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the lungs of asthma patients contain high levels of a rare immune system cell that can cause tissue inflammation. For the study, researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston, Stanford University, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in San Diego examined the bronchial fluid of 44 adults, 14 of whom had moderate to severe asthma with frequent wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Six other participants were healthy, and five had sarcoidosis, a different kind of respiratory inflammatory disease. The authors of the study believe the findings could lead to research for treatments targeting the natural killer T cells instead of focusing on the conventional type 2 helper cells that previously were thought to be important in causing asthma. To view an extract of the article click on this link: //content.nejm.org/cgi/content/extract/354/11/1186

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