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Nervous System's Role In Asthma Attacks Revealed

Update Date: Jul 23, 2014 05:12 PM EDT
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Sensory neurons control bronchial hyperactivity, a new study has reported.

It is known that immune system plays an important role in asthma. However, treatments suppressing the immune response and relieve inflammation do not control asthma symptoms completely. This indicates that asthma might involve an additional mechanism.

Researchers thought this mechanism might be nervous system activity. To test their belief, researchers genetically engineered mice with different groups of inactive neurons. Mice were given an allergy to ovalbumin, egg white protein. The allergy causes asthma like symptoms such as airway hypereactivity and constriction of the airways.

When the group of mice was exposed to ovalbumin, all but one group of mice experienced these symptoms. In the asymptomatic mice, nerve cells that express a receptor called transient receptor potential vallinoid 1 (TRPV1) were inactive, the press release added.

Although the mice did not exhibit asthma-like symptoms, their immune systems did respond to the allergen by producing ovalbumin-specific immunoglobulins and accumulated leukocytes in their lungs.

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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