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Featured Buzz | April 9

By Debbie Bunch

April 9, 2024

New Target for Allergic Asthma

According to researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, inhibiting the immune cells most commonly associated with driving allergic asthma could lead to significant improvements in asthma outcomes.

The investigators explain that immune cells in the lungs called type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) are activated when faced with allergens, causing proinflammatory signals that drive the recruitment of other immune cells into the lungs and lead to airway inflammation.

They discovered that ILC2s also produce a protein known as Piezo1 that can limit the ability of ILC2s to foster this inflammation.

In their studies, ILC2s in mice without Pieszo1 became more active in response to allergens than normal and the mice developed more airway inflammation. However, when treated with a drug called Yoda1 that switches on the Piezo1 channels, ILC2 activity in these mice was reduced and the mice suffered from fewer allergy-related symptoms.

From there, the researchers tested the effects of Yoda1 on mice who had their ILC2s replaced with human ILC2s, finding that these mice also had reduced airway hyperreactivity and lung inflammation. This led them to suggest drugs like Yoda1 may be an effective treatment for ILC2-dependent airway inflammation in humans.

“Given the importance of ILC2s in allergic asthma, there is an urgent need to develop novel mechanism-based approaches to target these critical drivers of inflammation in the lungs,” said study author Omid Akbari, PhD. “Future studies are therefore warranted to delineate the role of Piezo1 channels in human patients with asthma and to develop Piezo1-driven therapeutics for the treatment of allergic asthma pathogenesis.”

The study, which was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, was published by the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Read More

E-Cigarettes Linked to Heart Failure

In one of the largest prospective studies to date, researchers from MedStar Health in Baltimore have found that people who have ever used e-cigarettes are more likely to develop heart failure than people who have never used them.

The study looked at data from surveys and electronic health records collected for the All of Us trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The investigators analyzed associations between e-cigarette use and new diagnoses of heart failure in 175,667 study participants. The average age of the participants was 52 and 60.5% were female.

Among this group, 3,242 participants developed heart failure within a median follow-up of 45 months. Specific results showed —

  • People who used e-cigarettes at any point were 19% more likely to develop heart failure than people who had never used e-cigarettes.
  • The finding held true despite adjustments for demographic and socioeconomic factors, other heart disease risk factors, and participants’ past and current use of other substances, including alcohol and tobacco products.
  • The relationship between e-cigarettes and heart failure was not modified by age, sex, or smoking status.
  • The increased risk associated with e-cigarette use was statistically significant for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, in which the heart muscle becomes stiff and does not properly fill with blood between contractions.
  • The association was not significant for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, in which the heart muscle becomes weak and the left ventricle does not squeeze as hard as it should during contractions.

“I think this research is long overdue, especially considering how much e-cigarettes have gained traction,” said study author Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, MD. “We don’t want to wait too long to find out eventually that it might be harmful, and by that time a lot of harm might already have been done. With more research, we will get to uncover a lot more about the potential health consequences and improve the information out to the public.”

The study was presented at the recent American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session. Read More

How Insomnia May Impact Asthma Control

In a study that matched asthma patients with and without insomnia on a one-to-one basis, U.S. researchers publishing in the Journal of Asthma found asthma patients who suffer from insomnia are more likely to report symptoms of depression and they also have more acute exacerbations of asthma per year.

The investigators looked at 659 patients at one large asthma center. Among that group 89 had insomnia and 68.5% of these patients also had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. That compared to just 11.4% of the asthma patients who did not report insomnia. Insomnia patients were more likely to have a concurrent diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea as well, 57.3% vs. 18% for those without insomnia.

When it came to asthma exacerbations, patients with insomnia had an average of 0.93 per year compared to 0.59 for patients without insomnia.

“Our data reveal a considerable interaction between insomnia, depression, and obstructive sleep apnea in individuals with asthma,” write the authors. “The increased exacerbation rate suggests that underlying sleep and mood disorders negatively affect asthma control.” Read More


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