A special diet can help in certain cases of asthma, study suggests

A special diet can help in certain cases of asthma, study suggests

Can a special diet help in certain cases of asthma? A new study at the University of Bonn at least points to this conclusion. According to the study, mice that were switched to a so-called ketogenic diet showed significantly reduced inflammation of the respiratory tract. The results are now published in the renowned journal Immunity . Asthma patients react even to low concentrations of some allergens with severe inflammation of the bronchi. This is also accompanied by increased mucus production, which makes breathing even more difficult. A central role here is played by cells of the innate immune system, which were only discovered a few years ago and are called Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILC). They perform an important protective function in the lungs by regenerating damaged mucous membranes. For this purpose they produce inflammatory messengers from the group of cytokines, which stimulate division of the mucosal cells and promote mucus production. This mechanism is normally very useful: It allows the body to quickly repair damage caused by pathogens or harmful substances. The mucus then transports the pathogens out of the bronchial tubes and protects the respiratory tract against re-infection. With asthma, however, the inflammatory reaction is much stronger and longer than normal." Prof. Dr. Christoph Wilhelm, Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology Prof. Dr. Christoph Wilhelm is a member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation at the University of Bonn. The consequences are extreme breathing difficulties, which can even be life-threatening. Rapid reproduction The ILCs multiply rapidly during this process and produce large amounts of proinflammatory cytokines. Scientists hope that if their division could be slowed down, it may be possible to bring the excessive reaction under control. In fact, the results now published point in exactly this direction. "We have investigated which metabolic processes are active in the ILCs when they switch to reproduction mode," explains Wilhelm's colleague Dr. Fotios Karagiannis. "Then we tried to block these metabolic pathways and thereby reduce the speed at which the cells divide." Some metabolic pathways were in fact significantly more active in dividing ILCs. They primarily ensure that the cells are supplied with energy and with the building blocks they require for reproduction. The latter include, for example, fatty acids that are needed to make the cell membrane. This forms a thin skin with which cells separate themselves from their surroundings. "Activated ILCs therefore absorb fatty acids from their environment and store them in their interior in small droplets for a short time, before they utilize them for energy or building membranes," explains Karagiannis. Related Stories



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