Asthmatics less able to fight off flu

March 9, 2017, University of Southampton

People with asthma are likely to have worse symptoms when they get the flu because they have weaker immune systems, new Southampton research has shown..

A study led by Dr Ben Nicholas, of the University of Southampton, and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, assessed lung samples from and healthy volunteers.

The samples were exposed to influenza and their reactions analysed.

Dr Nicholas, who led the study under the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, said: "We wanted to look into whether system differences explain why asthmatics are more likely to end up in hospital if they get flu than the general population. This is important, as flu can cause a person's 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.

"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."

The research method Dr Nicholas used is unlike other techniques, which separate and grow a single layer of cells in a dish. Instead, Dr Nicholas kept the whole sample intact which allowed him to study a pin-head sized piece of lung in the lab, as it would be found in the body.

The study was supported by, and conducted in collaboration with Synairgen, a University of Southampton spin-out company, and formed part of U-BIOPRED, a large-scale European project using information and samples from adults and children to learn more about different types of asthma.

More research is now needed to investigate whether the difference in immune responses is due to the itself, or the daily medications used by participating asthmatics to control their condition.

Explore further: Breathable treatment to help prevent asthma attacks

More information: Ben Nicholas et al. Susceptibility to influenza virus infection of bronchial biopsies in asthma, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.12.964

Related Stories

Breathable treatment to help prevent asthma attacks

August 31, 2012
Details of a treatment that could help asthmatics fight infections that trigger 80% of asthma attacks, developed by University of Southampton spin-out company Synairgen, will be presented to European respiratory experts on ...

CPAP improves asthma control, QoL for adults with asthma, OSA

October 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—For adults with asthma and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is associated with improved asthma control, quality of life, and lung function, according to a study ...

Positive results trial for new asthma treatment

April 19, 2012
Scientists from the University of Southampton and Synairgen, a respiratory drug development company spun out from the University, can announce positive data from its Phase II clinical trial, into the effectiveness of the ...

Asthma in many adolescents is not an allergic disease

January 13, 2016
New research indicates that asthma in many adolescents is not likely to involve inflammation of the airways and therefore should not be considered an allergic disease.

Asthma symptoms could be aggravated by imbalance problems

September 2, 2012
Asthma patients could be at a higher risk of worsening symptoms due to problems with their balance, according to new research.

New study to assess why 'rogue gene' causes asthma in early life

March 10, 2016
Researchers at the University of Southampton are to study why some people are more likely to develop asthma.

Recommended for you

Research debunks 'myth' that strenuous exercise suppresses the immune system

April 20, 2018
New research overturns a myth that has persisted for nearly four decades - that competing in endurance sports, like this weekend's London Marathon, suppresses the body's immune system and makes competitors more susceptible ...

Immune diversity among the KhoeSan population

April 20, 2018
A new study of the KhoeSan of Southern Africa has improved the understanding of immune diversity among the oldest surviving indigenous population in the world.

Psoriasis treated with compound derived from immune cells

April 18, 2018
A compound derived from immune cells treats psoriasis in mice and holds promise for other autoimmune diseases, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Researchers uncover origin of virus-fighting plasma B cells

April 18, 2018
Plasma B cells, which move through the body releasing antibodies, are an important component of the body's fight against viral infections and other invaders. They are relatively rare, however, and increasing their ranks is ...

Your immune system holds the line against repeat invaders, thanks to this molecule

April 17, 2018
Memory T cells are a critical element of our immune system's historical archive. To prevent repeat infections, these cells retain a record of germs they've fought before.

New disease model to facilitate development of ALS and MS therapies

April 17, 2018
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a new disease model for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and MS that can be used to develop new immunotherapies. The model is described in a publication ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.