PILOT: Center for Appalachian Research in Envrionmental Sciences: The BREATH Study: Using Breath BiomaRkers to Understand Environmental Contributions to Asthma in THe Appalachian Region of Kentucky

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Asthma, defined as a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by episodic shortness of breath with expiratory wheezing and cough, is a serious health concern. The NIH estimates that approximately 8-10% of adults in the US have asthma. Asthma is a serious public health concern here in the Commonwealth as well but there are regions of the state where the asthma prevalence is almost triple that of the US national average. The Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky is one area where asthma is extremely prevalent and thus the area of focus for this study. Previous work by our group has shown that sphingolipids, a class of bioactive lipid metabolites, play a multifaceted role in lung inflammation and may account for the immunopathology of asthma. We hypothesize that these sphingolipids may be responsible for the pulmonary dysfunction seen in patients with asthma across Appalachia that have been exposed to a host of environmental insults including mold, smoke, silica and/or coal dust. Furthermore, we have developed a state of the science, non-invasive technique which can be utilized in the field to assess sphingolipid levels in the breath of normal healthy subjects as well as those patients with pulmonary complications. Thus, we are using a holistic approach to examine the role of sphingolipids in pulmonary inflammation amongst citizens in Appalachia in order to develop early detection screens and targeted therapies for the prevention of advanced pulmonary disease. Thus, the aims of this study are to determine feasibility of translating laboratory findings into the Appalachian community and by gathering demographic, geographical, and biological data to help better understand the complex contributions of the environment to the extremely high prevalence of asthma seen in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky.
Effective start/end date5/1/173/31/20


  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


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