Previous studies have shown that certain lung infections such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae can linger on and contribute to a person later experiencing symptoms of asthma.
Researchers have now identified a particular gene that influences how severe a M. pneumoniae infection may be, which in turn suggests that a different strategy might be needed for treating asthma resulting from this and similar lung infections rather than allergies.
"What this shows is that infectious asthma might have a different mechanism than allergic asthma. Most people think asthma is asthma, but it may be multifaceted," said Dr. Robert Hardy, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern.
That's an important implication because the latest statistics show that asthma is on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 million Americans currently have asthma and another 10 million have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their life. Roughly 6.5 million American children, or nearly 9 percent of the nation's pre-adult population, have asthma, figures released in December show.
Dr. Hardy, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, has been using mice to study how certain pneumonia bacteria contribute to chronic asthma and, in this latest study, identified how a particular gene may contribute to more severe lung infection. The research appears in the January edition of Infection and Immunity.
Pneumonia is a lung infection typically characterized by breathing difficulties and spread by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms often include headache, fever, chills, coughs, chest pains, sore throat and nausea. Dr. Hardy's research involves pneumonia caused by the bacterium M. pneumoniae, commonly called walking pneumonia, a typically less severe form of the disease that accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of community-acquired pneumonia.
To investigate the mechanism by which M. pneumoniae causes lung disease and respiratory difficulties, the UT Southwestern researchers inoculated two different types of mice with this bacterium. The study contrasted the reaction of one normal group of mice with another group lacking a particular gene called IL-12, which is involved in immune response. The mice engineered without the gene showed significantly less lung inflammation than the mice that naturally had the gene, with some indicators showing seven times less inflammation.
"M. pneumoniae might be more of a cofactor in developing chronic asthma than a direct cause, similar to how high cholesterol or diabetes makes people more vulnerable to heart attacks," Dr. Hardy said, pointing to a number of previous studies. "It's probably not the only thing, but it's one of them. In some people it might incite asthma or it might exacerbate it."
Because the M. pneumoniae bacterium is difficult to kill and often remains in the lungs even after antibiotic treatment and the symptoms fade, Dr. Hardy said, it is important to find better treatments to prevent it from lingering.
Russell Rian | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences