Flu symptoms are likely to be worse in individuals with asthma, according to a study published in theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
In the study, investigators used lung samples obtained from healthy volunteers and individuals with asthma. The samples were then exposed to influenza, and the reactions were analyzed.
“We wanted to look into whether immune system differences explain why asthmatics are more likely to end up in [the] hospital if they get [the] flu than the general population,” said lead author Dr Ben Nicholas. “This is important, as flu can cause a person’s asthma symptoms to get worse. The samples from healthy people showed a strong immune system—triggering reaction to the flu virus. But in lung samples from asthma patients, this reaction was much weaker.”
The worsening of flu symptoms in individuals withasthmais, in part, attributed to their weaker immune systems, the authors noted.
“We hope these results help researchers better understand why asthmatics are more affected by influenza and help find new treatments for common lung infections, which often make asthma symptoms worse.”
For the study, investigators used a technique that differed from traditional methods, which separate and grow single layers of cells in a dish. Instead, the entire sample remained intact to allow the investigators to study a pinhead-size piece of lung in the lab as it would be found in the body.
Although the findings are of interest, more research is needed to determine whether the difference in immune response is because of the asthma itself or the medications used to control it.