Asthma for many adolescents should not be considered an allergic disease, a new study published in Respirology suggests. 

Data on neutrophilic inflammation is well known in adults with non-eosinophilic asthma (NEA); however, not so much is known about NEA in children and adolescents. Researchers from New Zealand studied clinical characteristics and inflammatory markers in 77 adolescents with asthma and compared them to those found in 68 adolescents without asthma aged 12-17 years old. 

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In the group with NEA (54%), atopy, sputum neutrophil, eosinophil, eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), endoxtoxin, neutrophil elastase, and IL-8 levels were not different from thosee without asthma. Researchers found that the majority of NEA had no evidence of inflammation; 14% had neutrophilia vs. 11% of EA and 15% of those without asthma. In addition, only small differences in FEV1 were seen between EA and with similar severity and prevalence of symptoms. 

Study authors concluded that NEA has similar clinical characteristics as EA in adolescent asthma. Neutrophils, however, do not seem to play a role in NEA in adolescents. These findings “may explain why in some asthmatics, asthma medication is less effective,” Dr. Jeroen Douwes, senior author of the study, stated. Other treatments may need to be developed for patients with asthma if it can occur without any airway inflammation. 

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