HONG KONG, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- An anti-inflammatory protein called TNFAIP3 was found to be a key factor in childhood asthma development and farm dust exposure can restore the level of TNFAIP3, the Chinese University of Hong Kong made the results public on Thursday.
According to researchers of the university, the majority of child asthma cases are allergic asthma and the multifactorial cause of asthma includes genetic factors and environmental exposures.
The Department of Paediatrics and the Department of Chemical Pathology of the university's Faculty of Medicine have collaborated with researchers from Germany, Finland and Chinese mainland in a study that looks into the effect of exposing children to a farm environment to prevent allergic asthma.
From 2013 to 2016, the researchers analysed the blood samples of 2,168 children from Germany, Switzerland, Finland and China. TNFAIP3 expression was studied in asthmatic urban children and results indicated that their TNFAIP3 expression was about 50 percent of the healthy children across different urban areas.
Moreover, the research team stimulated the cells of urban asthmatic children with dust extracted from German and Finnish farms. Results showed that TNFAIP3 expression can be restored to the level of healthy subjects while decreasing the proinflammatory gene expression.
Wong Wing Kin, professor from the university's Department of Paediatrics said that the anti-inflammatory capacities shown after the dust stimulation might indicate a potential therapeutic role for farm dust exposure.
"As beneficial effects of farm dust stimulation were demonstrated, we believe that exposure to farm environments is beneficial for children and potentially for allergy prevention and is even able to decrease the increased inflammatory status of patients with allergic asthma. This may represent a promising future agent for asthma prevention and treatment," Wong added.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.