Hello and welcome to the World Asthma Foundation blog, where we share the latest news and insights on asthma research and treatment. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with asthma and advancing the science of asthma prevention and cure. Our mission is to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for asthma patients and their families. Our vision is a world free of Asthma.
If you are a Severe Asthmatic, you may have a subtype of asthma called Th17-high asthma. This subtype is characterized by high levels of a molecule called IL-17 in your airways. IL-17 is produced by a type of immune cell called Th17 cell. Th17 cells are normally involved in protecting the body from certain bacteria and fungi. However, in some cases, they can become overactive and produce too much IL-17.
IL-17 is a powerful inflammatory molecule that can worsen your asthma symptoms by:
• Attracting other immune cells, such as neutrophils, to your airways
• Activating tissue cells to secrete mucus and contract airway smooth muscle
• Inducing the production of other inflammatory molecules that cause more damage
• Interfering with the action of steroids, which are the main drugs used to treat asthma
In this blog post, we will explain how IL-17 affects Th17-high asthma and what you can do about it.
How IL-17 affects Th17-high asthma
IL-17 plays a key role in driving neutrophilic inflammation in Th17-high asthma. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that fight infections and inflammation. However, in Th17-high asthma, they accumulate in the airways and cause damage to the lung tissue. This leads to more severe asthma symptoms and poor response to conventional treatments.
IL-17 can stimulate neutrophils to release harmful substances that can damage the airway lining and cause mucus production, airway narrowing, and airway remodeling.
IL-17 can also make asthma worse by interfering with the action of steroids. Steroids work by suppressing inflammation and reducing the activity of immune cells. However, IL-17 can make some immune cells resistant to steroids, which means that steroids may not work as well for some severe asthmatics.
What you can do about IL-17.
One possible strategy to treat Th17-high asthma is to block IL-17 or its receptor with drugs that can prevent IL-17 from binding to its targets and causing inflammation. Several such drugs have been developed and tested in clinical trials for various inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. Some of these drugs have also been tested in Severe Asthmatics who have high levels of IL-17 or neutrophils in their airways.
The results of these trials have been mixed. Some studies have shown that blocking IL-17 can improve lung function, reduce exacerbations, and lower the need for oral steroids in severe asthmatics. Other studies have shown no benefit or even worse outcomes with IL-17 blockers. The reasons for these discrepancies are not clear yet, but may depend on factors such as the type of IL-17 blocker used, the dose and duration of treatment, the characteristics of the patients enrolled, and the endpoints measured.
Therefore, more research is needed to determine whether blocking IL-17 is a viable option for treating severe asthma. We also need to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from this approach and how to monitor their response and safety. We also need to explore other ways to modulate IL-17 production or function in severe asthmatics.
In addition to pharmacological interventions, there are also some lifestyle changes that may help reduce IL-17 levels and improve asthma control. These include:
• Avoiding or reducing exposure to triggers that may activate Th17 cells, such as allergens, infections and pollution
• Eating a balanced diet that contains anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish
• Exercising regularly, but not too intensely, as moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and improve lung function
• Managing stress levels, as stress can increase inflammation and worsen asthma symptoms
If you have asthma, it is important to consult your doctor regularly and follow their advice on how to manage your condition. Your doctor may perform some tests to determine your asthma subtype and prescribe the best treatment for you.
By understanding how IL-17 affects your asthma and taking steps to reduce its impact, you may be able to breathe easier and enjoy a better quality of life.
We hope that this blog post has given you some insight into the role of IL-17 in severe asthma and the potential challenges and opportunities for targeting it. We will continue to update you on this topic as new findings emerge. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more blog posts from the World Asthma Foundation. Together we can defeat asthma.