DZL scientists find seasonal changes in cytokine levels of asthmatics

Laboratory analysis of blood

A study with more than 500 participants of the asthma registry ALLIANCE reveals: the levels of blood cytokines show seasonal variability. This fact should be taken into account when patients are typed, because it matters for interpretation of the results. DZL scientists published their study on this topic in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology.

Asthma patients differ widely with respect to the characteristics of their disease. The DZL asthma cohort ALLIANCE aims at finding and better understanding subtypes as well as developing personalized treatment strategies. Therefore, our study teams characterize participants very well during every visit. Samples from drawn blood are used to determine cytokine levels. These messengers facilitate communication in the immune system and are indicative of its state. In the now published study, scientists wanted to know, if cytokine levels change throughout the year. This would be quite probable as air-borne pollen influences the immune system of asthmatics and allergics in a seasonal fashion. Surprisingly, research on this topic is lacking. The result of the study is relevant as it has implications for the clinical interpretation of cytokine levels in the blood.

DZL scientists analyzed data and blood samples of more than 500 children, adolescents and adult study subjects. Indeed they found seasonal differences in 8 of 15 cytokines: interleukins 1RA, 4, 9 and 17 as well as MIP-1α and TNF-α. The lowest values were detected in spring (January to March), the highest in late summer (July to September). Moreover, IL-17 und PDGF-BB showed differences in the three age groups.

Especially when developing personalized treatment strategies, seasonal patterns should be taken in account in the future. „Our analyses might lead to a better understanding of variability of cytokine biomarkers in subgroups of patients with difficult-to-treat asthma and therefore to improved individual therapies“, says Dr. Markus Weckmann, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (Campus Lübeck), who shares first-authorship of the paper with Dominik Thiele.

ALLIANCE is one of the large clinical flagship projects of DZL. The DZL sites ARCNBREATHUGMLC and CPC-M are participating as well as the external partner University Medical Center Cologne. University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (Campus Lübeck), Medical School Hannover, University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg, Hospital of the University Munich and University Medical Center Cologne are collaborating in the pediatric arm. Adult patients are recruited at LungenClinic Grosshansdorf and at Research Center Borstel.


Source: Weckmann M*, Thiele D*, Liboschik L, Bahmer T, Pech M, Dittrich AM, Fuchs O, Happle C, Schaub B, Ricklefs I, Rabe K, Mutius EV, Hansen G, König IR, Kopp MV (2020) Cytokine levels in children and adults with wheezing and asthma show specific patterns of variability over time. Clin Exp Immunol [Electronically published on November 17, 2020]
*shared first authors

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