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24-11-2014 | Respiratory | Article

Abnormal vitamin D, trace element levels may indicate asthma risk

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medwireNews: Serum levels of vitamin D, copper and zinc could help identify infants with recurrent wheezing who are at risk of developing asthma, Turkish researchers suggest.

The team, from Istanbul University, led by Metin Uysalol, found that patients with recurrent wheezing, a positive Asthma Predictive Index (API) or a multiple-trigger temporal wheeze pattern had significantly lower serum levels of vitamin D and zinc than patients with no recurrent wheezing, a negative API or an episodic wheeze pattern, respectively.

By contrast, serum copper levels and the copper to zinc ratio were significantly higher among the former patients compared with the latter, report the researchers in BMC Paediatrics.

Uysalol and team studied the relationship between recurrence of wheezing and serum levels of vitamin D, zinc, and copper in 73 children, aged 3 to 24 months, admitted to a hospital emergency department with wheezing and 75 controls of a similar age admitted with minor trauma.

Of the children admitted with wheezing, 32 (43.8%) had recurrent wheezing, defined as more than three wheezing attacks, and 26 (35.6%) had a positive API.

When classified by temporal wheeze pattern, 53 (72.6%) of the children with wheezing had episodic wheezing, defined as wheezing only when suffering from respiratory tract infections, while the remaining 20 (27.4%) had multiple-trigger wheezing.

The researchers found no significant difference between the children with wheezing and the control group in the serum levels of vitamin D, zinc or copper.

However, noting the differences observed among the patients with and without recurrent wheezing, a positive API or a multiple trigger pattern they suggest that serum vitamin D and trace element levels “might have [a] role in pathogenesis, recurrence, severity and temporal pattern of wheeze and implicitly, in the pathogenesis of asthma.”

Furthermore, patients with severe wheezing attacks and those admitted to intensive care units had significantly lower serum vitamin D and zinc levels, and a significantly higher copper level and copper to zinc ratio than patients with a milder course of illness.

Uysalol and co-authors call for further studies to investigate the effect of vitamin D and trace elements on the immune system and determine whether they could be used in treatment of wheezing.

The team concludes: “We believe that determining additional risk factors for recurrent wheezing and asthma may guide public health policies so that more effective prevention strategies against asthma might be developed.”

medwireNews (www.medwirenews.com) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2014

By Laura Cowen, medwireNews Reporter

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