Skip navigation
E. New Insight into the Link Between Infection and Asthma

Narrator: This is Science Today. It's been known that there is a clinical link between various types of infection, either viral or bacterial, and serious asthma attacks. Dr. George Caughey, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco says the real question is why asthma is provoked by infection.

Caughey: We were interested in exploring the reason. I mean, what are the inflammatory mediators involved, which could be targets for drug treatment?

Narrator: In mice studies, Caughey discovered that histamine, an inflammatory compound released during allergic reactions, can be produced in large quantities in the lung by white blood cells, or neutrophils. These cells are the major component of pus, a fluid found in infected tissue. It was previously thought that lung histamine was produced by mast cells, which are classically associated with allergies.

Caughey: It suggests that if this phenomena also occurs in humans, that targeting histamine made by neutrophils might be a strategy to reduce the severity of attacks.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.