A lack of response to glucocorticoid drug (GC) treatment for some lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, has been increasingly reported among patients and medical practitioners. A recent research effort led by the University of Edinburgh, along with researchers at the University of California and CXR Biosciences in Dundee, sheds new light on the complex biological process associated with lung inflammation. This result of the new study points to why existing drugs are “ineffective” and how the new findings can lead to the development of new treatments for some lung disease.
Inflammation is the immediate immune system’s response to disease caused by bacterial infection. This response can be presented in any tissue, including lung tissue. Scientists in the study focused their analysis on the localized immunological response in the Neutrophils role. These are special immunological “white” cells whose principal function is to directly attack the pathogen. These cells have a lifespan measured in hours, except when fulfilling their duties at the site; then they can survive for several days. This condition permits them to carry out their protective functions, absorbing more oxygen than usual.
When following a GC treatment, there is not enough oxygen supply for the drugs to function efficiently, leading to an ineffective treatment. Therefore, treatments less reliant on an oxygen supply would be more likely to be effective in diseases whose responses include inflammation of the tissue.
“Most diseases afflicting humans have an important inflammatory component,” said professor Adriano Rossi of the university’s MRC Centre for Inflammation Research. “Understanding the fundamental mechanisms and processes controlling inflammation will undoubtedly lead to the development of much-needed, safer anti-inflammatory drugs.”
Associate author Dr John Marwick pointed out that “Inflammatory diseases contribute to countless deaths and suffering, and deciphering how important inflammatory cells live and function is vital.”