Talking Allergies

Chitin's role in shellfish asthma / allergy
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Author:  gwentheeditor [ Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Chitin's role in shellfish asthma / allergy

I found this intriguing Univiersity of California research:

22 April 2007

One of life's most common compounds causes allergic inflammation

The beetle’s back and the crab’s shell owe their toughness to a common compound called chitin that now appears to trigger airway inflammation and possibly asthma, UCSF scientists have found.

Insects, molds and parasitic worms – all common sources of allergies or inflammation -- produce billions of tons of chitin a year. Humans and other mammals lack chitin, but we do have specialized enzymes to break it down. The scientists wondered why.

They discovered that chitin triggers an allergic inflammatory response in the lungs of mice, as well as increased production of the chitin-destroying enzyme made by cells lining the lung airways. This and other results support their hypothesis, still under study, that chitin causes inflammation and allergy, and that the chitin-destroying enzyme in the lung could play an important role in regulating the body’s response.

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