August 28, 2014
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Indoor fungi species associated with increased asthma exacerbation

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Exposure to certain species of indoor fungi increased risk and exacerbation for asthma symptoms in adults and children, according to recent study results.

Researchers conducted a systematic review to investigate “the relationship between exposure to indoor fungi identified to the general or species level on asthma outcomes in children and adults.” They searched 10 databases in April 2013 for articles published since 1990. Data meeting eligibility requirements were extracted from 17 studies and assessed for quality. A meta-analysis was conducted on seven studies to gauge fungal exposure and risk for asthma exacerbation.

Participants with asthma had greater concentrations of Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Penicllium species in their homes. There was an increased risk for reporting asthma symptoms associated with exposure to Penicillium, Aspergillus and Cladosporium species.

Random-effect estimates showed that exacerbation of current asthma symptoms increased by 36% (adjusted model) to 48% (unadjusted model) when associated with the presence of Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Penicllium species, when compared with people exposed to lower concentrations of the fungi.

“Studies were of medium quality and showed medium-high heterogeneity, but evidence concerning the specific role of fungal species was limited,” the researchers wrote.

“Longitudinal studies assessing increased exposure to indoor fungi before the development of asthma symptoms suggests that species of Penicillium, Aspergillus and Cladosporium pose a respiratory health risk in susceptible populations,” the researchers concluded. “Increased exacerbation of current asthma symptoms in children and adults were associated with increased levels of Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Alternaria species, although further work should consider the role of fungal diversity and increased exposure to other fungal species.”

Disclosure: See the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.