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Steroid Treatments May Worsen Severe Asthma

August 23rd, 2017

Asthma affects more than 20 million Americans, and the first line of treatment is usually corticosteroids to decrease inflammation and clear the airway. But for the 5%-10% of people with severe asthma, corticosteroid treatments do not improve symptoms and may even make the condition worse. Providing an important clue about why some cases of asthma are worse than others and harder to treat, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recently found that levels of an inflammatory protein called CXCL10 are higher in about 50% of people with severe asthma. Not only are corticosteroids ineffective in treating people with asthma who have high levels of CXCL10, the drugs also play a role in stimulating the CXCL10 production that results in persistent inflammation and asthma symptoms. “The current therapies are inadequate for a subset of patients with a severe form of asthma,” said the study’s co-senior author Anuradha Ray, Ph.D., professor of immunology and medicine and Endowed Chair in Lung Immunology at Pitt’s School of Medicine. “We need to better understand their underlying disease and why they are poorly responsive to corticosteroids in order to identify novel targets for future therapies.”   

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