Skip to main content

08-07-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Nutritional drink may reduce airway inflammation in asthmatic children


Free abstract

MedWire News: A nutritional drink rich in beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants may help reduce levels of airway inflammation in children with asthma, US research suggests.

Results from previous studies have shown that "a novel nutritional formula (NNF) enriched in eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and γ-linolenic fatty acids and antioxidants reduces airway inflammation and improves clinical outcomes in critically ill patients," explain Stanley Szefler (University of Colorado, Denver) and team.

But they add that the "NNF has not been evaluated in chronic inflammatory diseases such as persistent asthma."

To investigate, the researchers enrolled 43 children, aged 6-14 years, with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma. The children, who were taking a bronchodilator alone as needed, were randomly assigned to drink 237 ml of the NNF (n=23) or a placebo formula (n=20) each day for 12 weeks.

All the children underwent lung function tests and measurements of airway inflammation, including exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), during the study period. They were also assessed for asthma control, adverse events, and tolerance to the NNF.

In total, 19 participants receiving the NNF and 18 receiving the control formula completed the 12-week trial.

The researchers found that both groups showed a significant increase in asthma-free days over the course of the study, with no significant between-group differences.

Children in the NNF group showed a significant reduction in mean eNO concentrations during the study period, from 3.20 parts per billion (ppb) at baseline to 3.04 ppb at week 12. In contrast, mean eNO concentrations increased among children in the control group, from 3.52 to 3.81 ppb, respectively.

Children in the NNF group also showed an improvement in the methacholine challenge test, with the mean concentration of methacholine needed to provoke a 20% fall in FEV1 increasing from 0.56 mg/ml at baseline to 0.78 mg/ml at week 12. In contrast, children in the control group experienced a reduction in the concentration of methacholine needed to provoke a 20% fall in FEV1. However, the between-group differences were of marginal significance.

Children in the NNF group had good adherence to the NNF, and there were no significant differences between the groups regarding adverse events after 12 weeks, the researchers note.

Szefler and team conclude in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy: "While no difference in asthma-free days was found between the active treatment and control groups over the course of this 3-month study, there is now evidence of a potential effect of NNF on alleviating inflammatory biomarkers in children with persistent asthma."

They add: "Dietary manipulation of fatty acids and antioxidants offer a potential strategy for the prevention of airway inflammation associated with persistent asthma."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

Related topics