Black patients are more likely to die from asthma due to a unique type of airway inflammation, according to one of the largest trials on race and asthma.
Airway inflammation is a key component of asthma, and innovations in treatment are becoming more personalized based on the specific type of airway inflammation in a patient, says Dr. Sharmilee Nyenhuis, assistant professor of medicine at UIC and corresponding author on the study.
“Emerging evidence suggests that differences in airway inflammation can affect a patient’s response to treatment, but whether the patterns of airway inflammation vary across race has, until now, been very unclear,” said Nyenhuis, of UIC’s division of pulmonary, critical care, sleep and allergy.
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Black men and women are two to three times more likely than whites to be hospitalized or die from asthma. And while many factors contribute to the burden of asthma in African Americans—such as access to health care and environmental exposures—rates are disproportionate even when social and environmental elements are taken into account.
The study is one of the largest and most diverse trials conducted in the U.S. on race and asthma, with 26% of the patients self-identifying as African American. Researchers found that black patients were more likely to exhibit eosinophilic airway inflammation than whites, despite taking comparable doses of asthma medication, such as inhaled corticosteroids.
The findings suggest that black patients with eosinophilic airway inflammation may not benefit from increasingly strong corticosteroid treatment.
The results are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.