Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) conducted a study in mice to learn more about the association between child asthma and the risk for developing anxiety in adulthood. Previous studies have shown that the risk for anxiety and depression is two to three times higher in the approximately 10 percent of children and adolescents with asthma, but this connection is not well understood. It may be related to biological aspects of the condition, as well as social and environmental factors, like parental anxiety or air pollution.
According to the Penn State researchers, studying asthma and anxiety in mice allowed them to isolate the contributing factors like inflammation and airway constriction more easily. For the study, the mice were divided into four groups: one with airway inflammation due to exposure to dust mites (a common allergen), one with labored breathing, one with both airway inflammation and labored breathing, and one control group with neither condition.
In a follow-up three months later, the researchers found that the mice exposed to the allergen still had lung inflammation and mucus in the airways, suggesting allergy triggers cause lasting effects, even after they’re removed. They also found that mice exposed to allergens that later developed changes in lung function also experienced genetic changes in areas of the brain that help regulate stress. More research is needed to determine if these results translate to humans.
Sourced from: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience