Current data overwhelmingly document the existence of a worldwide asthma epidemic, although individual studies remain controversial. The epidemic is thought to involve primarily persons with allergic asthma, and many diverse theories, based on an immunopathologic understanding of disease, have recently emerged to explain this involvement. In the context of recent insights into the immune basis of experimental asthma, we discuss in this review the leading asthma epidemic theories, including a new theory based on inhaled environmental proteases. Although no single theory may yet be fully embraced, there exists substantial hope that a unifying mechanism for the epidemic will be revealed through additional research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis