Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC have found that iron is a key regulator of energy usage by immune cells in the lungs, and that targeting iron uptake could help treat asthma and other allergic diseases.

The findings show that that iron serves as a gas pedal driving certain immune cells that cause inflammation in the lungs during an allergic asthma attack — and blocking or limiting iron may reduce the severity of symptoms.

During an attack, immune cells known as group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) can become overactive, causing excessive inflammation and a tightening of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. However, the underlying biology has been poorly understood until now.

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