A team of scientists has uncovered new information about the inflammatory effects of airborne particles from diesel fumes that can worsen asthma symptoms.
In recent years, it was shown in a large-scale study that a mutation in the chemical messengers that promote inflammation may be related to asthma. We have also discovered that higher levels of those chemical messengers, interleukin-33, may directly contribute to asthma severity.
However, a research team that has been looking at the mechanisms behind how asthma gets triggered has made an important discovery. They have revealed that a cell receptor called AhR is activated by diesel particles. The receptor promotes the production of inflammatory molecules that help rid the body of toxins in the body, yet overactivation of this receptor can cause health issues. It is found on cells in organs that are in contact with the air, including the skin, the gut, and the lungs.
In the collaborative study, the group stimulated human and mice immune cells with diesel particles that activated AhR. When stimulated, the cells produced IL-33, a specific chemical messenger that promotes inflammation. Yet when they were blocked, no IL-33 was generated by the cells. This suggests that diesel fumes aggravate immune cells to release chemicals that promote inflammation. This promising finding may help us understand the mechanisms behind many other chronic diseases of the skin, gut, and lungs.
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