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Asthma, Endotoxin and Environmental Tobacco Smoke


ASETS aims to investigate the relationships between environmental tobacco smoke, endotoxin and asthma. Asthma is an allergic disease of increasing concern within Europe, with considerable impacts on individual health, education and national economies.

Our understanding of asthma is improving but there are many areas where scientific investigations are required. Endotoxin is a known agent that can aggravate asthma, but its role in asthma development is complex. Some studies suggest a causal link between endotoxin and asthma while others suggest endotoxin is protective of asthma.

Recently laboratory studies have demonstrated that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) can be a large source of endotoxin raising the possibility that ETS derived endotoxin could account for some of the observed effects of endotoxin. However, these possibilities have not been tested in epidemiological studies. The proposed work will establish the relationships between ETS levels and endotoxin, through a monitoring programme in a variety of environments contaminated with different levels of ETS.

A model will be constructed that will allow the prediction of ETS derived endotoxin levels in different settings. Monitoring work for ETS components will also be conducted on a subset of an existing large birth cohort in the Netherlands (PIAMA) to more accurately establish the ETS exposure of the subjects in the cohort.

This data will then be used to assess the relationships between expression of childhood asthma, at different ages, and the levels o f ETS and ETS derived endotoxin. ASETS will advance our understanding of the influence of ETS on endotoxin and develop our understanding of the complex interaction between endotoxin and asthma.

The fellowship will provide Dr Gee with advanced training in t he epidemiological process to complement his well developed exposure assessment skills. IRAS, as a leading research group in the field, will be able to complement and add to his growing research independence.

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