In 2009, the H1N1 influenza A caused a global pandemic, leading to many deaths worldwide. Asthma patients, in particular, made up a significant portion of people who were hospitalized after H1N1 infection. As asthma affects over 300 million people worldwide, it is important to understand how asthma contributes to influenza A severity.
Using an animal model sensitized to house dust mite to mimic asthma, Dr. Don Sin and his group found that the sensitized mice were more susceptible to infection compared to control mice. The sensitized animals also had a reduced immune response.
More importantly, the team found that blocking the activity of IL-4Rα actually alleviated asthma symptoms and improved outcomes following H1N1 infection. IL-4Rα is a key component of the immune response that drives asthma development, and previous studies have focused on whether blocking IL-4Rα is a viable strategy for treating asthma.
This study, published in Respiratory Research, shows that blocking IL-4Rα may also be an effective way to improving outcomes for influenza A infection.