A gene that decides the life of certain immune cells mutates in some people who have asthma, according to a new study.
The gene encodes a protein called Siglec-8 present on the surfaces of a few types of immune cells. Usually they protect the body and keep it healthy, but can cause harm in allergic conditions.
Bruce S. Bochner, director of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues found that natural sugar-based molecules in the body coated on the protein causes the immune cells to die.
"Our results suggest these mutations in the Siglec-8 gene may play a role in asthma. It's reasonable to assume that efforts to target Siglec-8 might be able to influence this disease and others associated with eosinophils," says Bochner.
The findings appear in the June European Journal of Human Genetics.