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New research from Cincinnati Children’s sheds light on why exposure
to diesel exhaust particles from traffic pollution leads to increased asthma
severity in children. The particles increase blood levels of IL-17A, a protein associated with several chronic
The study, published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, also shows that neutralizing
IL-17A prevented airway inflammation in mice and humans.
Neutralization of IL-17A “may be a useful potential
therapeutic strategy to counteract the asthma-promoting effects of traffic-related
air pollution, especially in highly exposed, severe allergic asthmatics,” says
Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of asthma research at Cincinnati
Children’s and senior author of the study.
Hershey and colleagues studied 235 children and teens with
asthma. The researchers plotted each
person’s primary address and estimated their diesel exposure based on where
they lived. The researchers also studied
mice exposed to diesel particles and dust mites, a common household allergen.
In children with asthma, diesel exposure was associated with
more frequent asthma symptoms and increased IL-17A blood levels. Similarly, exposure to both diesel and dust
mites resulted in more severe asthma in mice compared to dust mite exposure
alone. When IL-17A was neutralized in
mice, it alleviated airway inflammation induced by diesel exposure.
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