Asthma and multiple sclerosis: an inverse association in a case-control general practice population

H.L. Tremlett
2002 QJM: Quarterly journal of medicine  
Th1/Th2 imbalance is hypothesized to up-regulate some diseases and down-regulate others. Compared to controls, multiple sclerosis (MS) (Th1-mediated) has been linked to a reduced risk of allergy and asthma (Th2-mediated), based on patient questionnaire studies and a review of asthma medication. Aim: To investigate whether MS is associated with a reduced risk of Th2-associated diseases and an increased risk of Th1-associated diseases. Design: Retrospective matched case-control study. Methods:
more » ... study. Methods: Three hundred and twenty MS patients and controls matched for age, gender, location and smoking were selected from the Welsh General Practice Morbidity Database from 1995-99. Case and control records were assessed for Th1-mediated and Th2-mediated diseases. Results: Overall, 346 MS patients were identified, giving a prevalence of 127 per 100 000. There was an inverse relationship between multiple sclerosis (MS) and asthma (OR 0.33; 95%CI 0.15-0.77). No statistically significant relationships emerged between other Th2-associated (eczema, dermatitis) or any Th1-associated (rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, inflammatory bowel disease wIBDx, type 1 diabetes) diseases and MS, although no patient in either group had treated type 1 diabetes. A trend existed for IBD, with 5/320 of cases affected and no controls; OR '; 95%CI 1.30-'; p = 0.063. Discussion: This inverse association between MS and asthma is compatible with a Th1/Th2 imbalance. Although the Th1/Th2 theory is probably an over-simplification in MS, a shift from Th1 cytokine dominance towards Th2 may provide drug-targeting routes for MS.
doi:10.1093/qjmed/95.11.753 pmid:12391388 fatcat:uouoddz4szbzxlp4orgvbtbxwm