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Reuters Health
May 23 2002

A substantial number of patients with chronic stable asthma have Mycoplasma species, Chlamydia species, or both in their airways, researchers have found.

Dr. Richard J. Martin, of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, Colorado, and colleagues note that chronic infection may play a role in the pathophysiology of asthma. They used PCR, culture and serology for Mycoplasma species, Chlamydia species, and viruses from the nasopharynx, lung and blood to compare 55 patients with chronic stable asthma with 11 control subjects.

The team reports that 25 of the asthmatic patients had positive results for a Mycoplasma species pathogen, compared with only one control subject. Seven of the asthmatic subjects tested positive for a Chlamydia species, and one of them had positive results for both C. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae. No controls were positive for Chlamydia species. These pathogens were mostly found on lung biopsy specimens or in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid.

“For the 55 asthmatic subjects, 31 (56.4%) had positive results for either Mycoplasma species, Chlamydia species, or both,” the investigators report in the April issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“For asthma, whether Mycoplasma and Chlamydia species play a role in the pathophysiology of this process needs further delineation as to localization of the organisms and response to specific antimicrobial therapy,” Dr. Martin and colleagues conclude. “However, if our findings are correct, this opens another dimension for asthma pathophysiology and eventually for new treatment options.”
J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107:595-601