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Scientists Spot Pollen Perpetrator

An enzyme interacts with airway cells to help trigger asthma, allergy attacks

MONDAY, Aug. 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified a key player in the severe respiratory inflammation involved in pollen-related allergy and asthma attacks.

In research with mice and in test tubes, scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that damage caused by chemically hypersensitive molecules called reactive oxygen species contribute greatly to the response. These molecules are spawned by interactions between cells that line the airway and a single pollen-carrying enzyme.

If an effective method of reducing this "oxidative stress" can be found, it could lead to new kinds of asthma and allergy treatments, the Texas team said.

"There has been a lot of discussion about oxidative stress exacerbating asthma and allergies, but this is the first direct evidence that oxidative stress is required to induce a robust inflammation, and the first demonstration that a source of that stress is right there in the pollen itself," associate professor Istvan Boldogh, one of the study's lead authors, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the Aug. 1 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers advice on allergy control.

SOURCE: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, news release, July 28, 2005
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