Researchers Identify Novel Source of Lung Damage in Asthma

British scientists have uncovered a novel mechanism contributing to the extensive damage inflicted by asthma. Their research reveals that cells lining the airways undergo significant compression during an asthma attack, leading to their destruction.

Published in the journal Science, the findings suggest that targeting this cellular compression directly, rather than solely managing its aftermath, could potentially disrupt the cycle of harm associated with asthma.

Individuals with asthma typically experience heightened sensitivity in their airways triggered by factors like pollen, pets, and physical exertion. These stimuli provoke inflammation and swelling in the airways, resulting in symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

Current medications, including drugs and inhalers, are effective in mitigating this inflammation and maintaining airway patency. However, recurrent asthma episodes can lead to permanent scarring and constriction of the airways.

In the midst of an asthma attack, the smooth muscle encircling the airways undergoes a tightening process known as bronchoconstriction. Delving into this mechanism, researchers from Kings College London conducted a detailed study using both mouse models and human lung tissue samples.

Professor Jody Rosenblatt, the lead researcher, elucidated that bronchoconstriction leads to detrimental effects on the airway lining, resulting in prolonged inflammation, impaired wound healing, and increased susceptibility to infections, which in turn exacerbate the frequency of attacks.

Until now, this damage to the epithelial lining had been overlooked, Prof Rosenblatt highlighted, emphasizing its crucial role as the body’s primary defense against infections. She expressed the significance of breaking this cycle of damage, stating, “If we can prevent this damage, we may be able to halt the occurrence of asthma attacks altogether.”

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