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Researchers may have found out why some children with asthma do not respond to treatment

Constraint of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 may help to reduce the effect of respiratory syncytial virus infection in children

Constraint of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 may help to reduce the effect of respiratory syncytial virus infection in children.

Asthma
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Researchers may have found out why some children thought to have asthma do not respond to treatment.

They think it is due to the activation of a protein, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), that increases mucus production, stimulates the cough reflex and narrows the airways, all of which can suggest asthma even if no allergen is present.

It is thought that the protein is activated by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

According to lead researcher Giovanni Piedimonte, a paediatric pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, US, ‘Many young children cough and wheeze when they get infected by RSV – similar to an asthma attack – but they do not respond to typical drugs we give for adult asthmatics, and this study might explain why.’

The researchers compared TRPV1-related changes in children and adults with and without asthma before and after RSV infection. Levels of TRPV1 were found to be greatly increased by RSV infection in children, but not in adults.

RSV infection of airway epithelium in children, but not adults, is thought to affect calcium channels, and therefore increase bronchoconstriction, mucus production and cough, which may contribute to viral bronchiolitis and asthma.

The expression of TRPV1 increases in people diagnosed with asthma and is further increased by viral infections, such as RSV, the study reveals.

The study concludes that, if pharmalogical advances to constrain TRPV1 are made, it may help to reduce the effect of the RSV infections in children with and without asthma.


Harford T, Rezaee F, Scheraga R et al (2017) Asthma predisposition and respiratory syncytial virus infection modulate transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 function in children's airways. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.07.015

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