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Iron deposits in the body affect breathing
Many people are affected by asthma - a seizure-like, inflammatory disease of our respiratory tract that is associated with an increased sensitivity of the bronchi to various stimuli. It has now emerged that iron deposits in the lung cells and in the lung tissue are associated with stronger asthma symptoms and reduced lung function.
The University of Newcastle's latest study found that iron deposits in lung cells and lung tissue are associated with more severe asthma symptoms and reduced lung function. The results of the study were published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Data from humans and mice were evaluated
For the investigation, data from samples from asthma patients and from mouse models were analyzed. A relationship between iron deposits in lung cells and lung tissue and the severity of asthma could be observed.
Mucus secretion and scarring due to iron deposits?
Experimental models also showed that iron deposits in the lungs trigger the immune system reactions typical of asthma and thus lead to a worsening of the disease. This includes, for example, effects such as increased secretion of mucus and scarring in the lungs, which lead to narrowing of the airways and make breathing more difficult.
What role does iron play in the human body?
Iron is a vital mineral that we get from food or supplements that help the body build the red blood cells that carry oxygen to our bodies. Iron absorption is strictly regulated at the level of the entire body, organs and cells in order to keep our iron stores in balance and to maintain health. If too much iron is taken up by the cells, it can lead to an accumulation of iron in the cells.
How do iron deposits affect asthma?
There is evidence that irregular iron absorption and abnormal iron levels are associated with lung disease. It was already known that asthma can have both high and low iron levels. However, it was unclear whether iron deposits in the lungs contributed to the development of the disease. The researchers wanted to find out whether an increased or decreased iron content in the lung cells worsened the disease.
Asthma severity was found
First, the iron content of the respiratory cells was determined in eleven severe and twelve mild to moderate asthma patients and their iron content was compared to twelve healthy people who did not have asthma. The severity of asthma was determined by the amount of air a person could breathe out in a second and was based on the frequency of the symptoms of asthma.
Further investigations were carried out
In addition, respiratory cell samples were taken from the participants using a biopsy to examine them under a microscope. The researchers collected additional data using brush swabs and other methods.
What were the results of the tests?
Various tests were then performed to determine the iron content in the airway cell samples. It was found that the iron content outside the lung cells was lower in people with asthma compared to healthy people. In severe asthmatics, the iron content was also significantly lower compared to mild to moderate asthmatics.
Increased iron concentration in lung cells from asthmatics
In contrast, the iron levels within the lung cells in bronchoscopic samples from mild to moderate and severe asthmatics were significantly higher than in healthy people. The difference between the iron concentrations in the lung cells of severe asthmatics and mild to moderate asthmatics was not really significant, but the analyzes showed that a high iron content in the lung cells and less iron outside the cells was associated with a greater restriction of the air flow.
Results of the investigation
The results of the study show that lower iron levels outside the cells and higher iron levels inside the cells are associated with lower lung function and more severe asthma symptoms.
Don't stop eating iron
The study should not be interpreted as meaning that high iron levels in the lungs are related to iron intake from food or the use of nutritional supplements, the researchers report. However, little is known about how iron intake and how the body regulates it can affect iron levels in lung cells and tissues.
How should asthmatics behave?
People with asthma should continue to follow a balanced diet that contains the recommended daily iron content. In addition, prescribed medication should be taken and an active lifestyle should be followed. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Md Khadem Ali, Richard Y. Kim, Alexandra C. Brown, Jemma R. Mayall, Rafia Karim et al .: Crucial role for lung iron level and regulation in the pathogenesis and severity of asthma, in European Respiratory Journal (query 18.03.2020 ), European Respiratory Journal