Biologist Magdalena Huber analyzes how immune cells change in childhood allergic asthma. Photo: Felix Neuhaus

Childhood asthma is evident in the blood

News 2021-413 EN

In children with allergic asthma, the blood contains different immune cells than in healthy individuals. This was the result of a study led, among others, by DZL researcher Professor Dr. Bianca Schaub of the University of Munich Hospital. According to the study, molecular characteristics of immune cells are suitable for identifying allergic asthma in children.

Asthma occurs more frequently in children than in adults. In allergic asthma, environmental irritants cause the body to produce proteins that lead to narrowed airways. "Although the origins of allergic asthma often lie in childhood, until now it was not understood in detail how the cells of the immune system are involved," explains Professor Dr. Magdalena Huber of Philipps University Marburg, who collaborated for the study with the research groups of Professor Dr. Bianca Schaub of Dr. von Hauner's Children's Hospital at LMU Clinical Center Munich and Dr. Henrik Mei at the German Rheumatism Research Center (DRFZ).

New biomarkers for allergic asthma discovered

Using a method established at the DRFZ, known as mass cytometry, the scientists investigated how immune cells change in children with allergic asthma. This showed that immune cells with the protein CD8 on their surface occur less frequently in children with allergic asthma than in healthy individuals.

Further genetic characterization revealed previously unknown molecular features, known as biomarkers, that are typically associated with allergic asthma in childhood. "Until now, many children with asthma have been treated similarly in clinical practice," explains pediatrician Schaub. "The new method of mass cytometry opens up the possibility of better immunologically characterizing different subgroups of children with asthma." These subgroups could benefit from tailored treatment options in the future.

More information:

Original publication: Hartmann Raifer, Axel R. Schulz, Johanna Theodorou & al.: Mass cytometry-based identification of a unique T-cell signature in childhood allergic asthma, Allergy 2021.

Source: Press release of Philipps University Marburg