Complete News World

Iron plays a major role in the practice of treating asthma

Iron plays a major role in the practice of treating asthma

Iron can cause special immune cells to become overactive during an allergic asthma attack, causing excessive inflammation and narrowing of the airways, making breathing more difficult.

In a new study, which also included experts from Keck School of Medicine The role that iron plays in the function of so-called group 2 innate lymphoid cells (also called ILC2 cells) and in the development of asthma has been investigated. The results are published in the specialized journal.Science Translational Medicine“Posted.

ILC2 cells need iron to produce energy

The researchers conducted various tests on human cells and mouse models. It has been shown that ILC2 cells need iron for a number of cellular processes and that iron plays an important role in immune cell activation.

In the body, iron enters cells by binding to a protein called transferrin. The new study used a detectable form of transferrin. ILC2 cells were then activated with the help of an allergen.

Reducing ILC2 activity

This showed that transferrin had penetrated the cells. According to the researchers, this is evidence that iron was also absorbed. When the team then stopped the ILC2 cells from taking up transferrin (and iron), ILC2 activity decreased.

In addition, the team tested the effects of deferiprone, a so-called iron chelator that is used to treat people with hemochromatosis (iron overload). Addition of deferiprone to cultured ILC2 reduced iron availability and thus ILC2 activity.

Iron plays a major role

The experts then analyzed the so-called ILC2 cell transcriptome. It turns out that iron plays a major role in energy production.

Administration of iron chelate to mice resulted in fewer cases of lung infections and less respiratory hyperactivity compared to animals in the control group. The researchers explained that in the absence of iron, ILC2 has to adapt and produce energy in a different way, which is accompanied by decreased inflammation.

Studies in 36 people with varying degrees of asthma showed that blocking iron absorption reduces the activation of ILC2 cells.

The experts also found that some donors' cells had higher expression of the transferrin receptor, causing the ILC2 cells to absorb more iron. According to experts, it is this characteristic that is associated with severe asthma.

New methods of treatment?

This confirms a direct link between iron intake and asthma in humans, the team reported. Overall, the findings point to a potential new treatment for allergic asthma, which, unlike treatment with steroids, targets the cause of the disease.

We cannot deprive the biological system of iron, which is an essential element for transporting oxygen in the body. But reducing the availability of iron to immune cells in the lungs can reduce asthma exacerbations during an acute attack“, says study author Professor Dr. Omid Akbari in one press release.

This approach could also pave the way for the treatment of other immune- and inflammation-related lung diseases, and the study results could also open new ways to alleviate allergic diseases such as eczema, dermatitis, hay fever, rhinitis and food allergies, in which ILC2 cells also become overactive.

Besides steroids, there are a few medications for asthma patients. Steroids, inhalers and tablets can control symptoms and keep patients alive, but they do not treat the underlying pathophysiology of the disease. We hope that our research will ultimately provide a better solution“, adds Professor Dr. Akbari. (Example)

Author and source information

This text conforms to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been vetted by medical professionals.


  • Benjamin B. Hurrell, Yoshihiro Sakano, Steven Chen, Doumit George Helou, Meng Li, et al: Iron controls the development of airway hyperactivity by regulating ILC2 metabolism and effector function; In: Translational Medicine Sciences (published May 8, 2024), Science Translational Medicine
  • Keck School of Medicine, USC: USC study reveals role of iron in allergic asthma and points to potential new treatments (published May 8, 2024), Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California

important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.