Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
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Asthma: An Inflammatory Syndrome

Posted on Wednesday, October, 28th, 2015 by Dr. Hellen in Allergies | Chronic Disease | Inflammation

Asthma is an inflammatory condition which affects the lungs in negative ways. It is not a single disease, but a group of symptoms that arise from the abnormal immune responses to environmental triggers.

Asthmatics suffer from limited air flow, difficulties in breathing, heightened sensitivity to particles or toxins in the air, wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the throat and chest.

Asthma can be triggered by allergens, air-borne pollutants, upper respiratory infections (like a cold or the flu), exercise, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen.

The cells that line the airways, the epithelium, are the first point of contact when particles are inhaled. Until recently, scientists were unaware that these cells contribute to inflammatory responses within the lungs.

Scientists are busily trying to clarify the role of over 50 different cytokines that are involved in regulating the amount of lung inflammation that asthmatics experience. When challenged with antigens, lung cells produce great numbers of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages. These immune factors regulate the activity of genes that result in inflammation and the body’s efforts to control inflammation.  Inflammatory cytokines increase the levels of inflammation to help the body remove the antigens, while other cytokines dampen excessive immune responses, trying to bring inflammatory responses back to balance.

Structural changes in the airways result from the actions of different classes of inflammatory cells and their immune proteins and biologically active molecules. Lung cells can also release molecules that cause the muscles and blood vessels in the airways to become stiff and narrow.

The lungs become overly sensitive to environmental stimuli triggering the production of excessive levels of mucus, perhaps to help dilute and wash antigens out. These fluids can clog the airways of the lungs making it even more difficult to breathe. The hypersensitivity of the lungs results in a vicious cycle of over-active immune reactions, inflammation, and more mucus production.

10.28.15 Ashma PNG grpahic

 

As always the key to healthy immune support is balance. The body needs to produce enough inflammation to help us heal and protect us from external and internal challenges, but the inflammatory response must be well balanced and controlled.

Dr. Hellen’s major passion in life is helping people get more energy, become more productive, and enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

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The immune system is responsible for helping the body heal itself after illness or injury, and to defend the body against attack from pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and molds, and cancer cells that multiply too rapidly.

In some overly sensitive people however, the immune system may mistakenly view harmless substances, allergens (e.g., peanuts, pollen, dust mites, pet dander), as putting the body at risk of infection.

In response to an attack, the immune system produces large immune molecules called antibodies, immunoglobulins, along with smaller immune co-factors to help in the fight.

Individuals with allergies tend to have higher levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), a class of antibody. IgE attaches tightly to special immune cells called mast cells. They are found in the skin and linings of the intestine, eyes, and nasal passages. Mast cells play a pivotal role in host defense, inflammation, and tissue repair.

Mast cells are pre-loaded with inflammatory factors. At the body’s next exposure to the allergen, the allergen binds to the IgE, like a key going into a lock, and triggers the release of mast cell biochemicals such as histamine, and small immune factors such as cytokines.

A number of studies suggest that men and women with allergies are at a lower risk of developing glioma, a brain cancer. Gliomas are among the most common and most rapidly growing brain tumors. Men and women with moderately higher levels of IgE, compared to clinically normal individuals, had statistically significant lower probabilities of developing gliomas.

However, as is usually the case in biology, more is not always better. Individuals with significantly elevated levels of IgE were not at a lower risk for developing malignant gliomas.

Look for future postings on the role of inflammation and cancer. Any search will reveal that inflammatory responses play major roles at different stages of tumor development. Since the relationship of inflammation, cancer, and immunological responses are under study, it is best to let the body do what it does best, and that is protect us from illnesses.

To optimize health, immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential.


www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21726235
www.jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/10/17/jnci.djr361.abstract
www.nature.com/nri/journal/v4/n10/fig_tab/nri1460_F1.html
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21978688

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