18 Feb Drug May Reverse Childhood Asthma Caused By Maternal Smoking
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Rehan: A new study holds hope for reversing asthma caused by smoking during
pregnancy. The study, published online by the American Journal of Physiology
– Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, reported that a medication that
stimulates certain proteins in the body reversed airway damage in disease
models of asthma caused by prenatal exposure to nicotine.
This is the first study to indicate that the damage caused by exposure to
nicotine during pregnancy could actually be reversed. Earlier studies found
this medication could prevent nicotine-induced asthma when given during
pregnancy. Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA
BioMed) conducted the study to determine if the lung and airway damage
caused by nicotine could be reversed and found it could be.
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Rehan: Despite the many warnings about the dangers of smoking while pregnant, 12% of women in the U.S. continue to smoke during pregnancy, resulting in the
births of at least 400,000 smoke-exposed infants in the U.S. alone. In
addition, pregnant women who try to give up smoking may continue to be
exposed to nicotine through nicotine replacement therapies and the use of
The researchers noted that cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 known
chemicals, so determining which ones are responsible for asthma in the
children of mothers who smoked is problematic. However, they said, previous
research has conclusively determined nicotine affects fetal lung
development, resulting in asthma, so they used nicotine for this study to
replicate the effects on the fetus of maternal smoking during pregnancy.
Researchers had previously found that nicotine exposure during pregnancy
altered certain key activities in specific lung cells of the developing
fetus, and this contributed to the development of asthma. For this study,
they administered a diabetes medication, rosiglitazone, which is known to
stimulate cellular activity related to lung development. The medication was
administered over the first 21 days of life in a perinatal nicotine
exposure-induced asthma model. When compared to a group given a placebo,
those treated with the medication showed a complete reversal of asthma.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Rehan: First and foremost, pregnant women should not only avoid smoking but should avoid nicotine in any form – including in e-cigarettes and nicotine
treatment programs that include the use of nicotine. While this study holds
hope for reversing damage caused by smoking during pregnancy, the best
method for preventing asthma is avoiding smoking and the use of nicotine
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Rehan: This study was conducted in disease models. Before using the class of drugs
investigated in this study to treat or reverse childhood asthma resulting
from smoke exposure during pregnancy, additional studies are needed to
determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs in humans.
Virender K. Rehan, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher, has conducted numerous
studies on the effects of maternal smoking on offspring and on the impact of
second- and third-hand smoke.
Editor’s Note: Virender K. Rehan, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher, has conducted numerous studies on the effects of maternal smoking on offspring and on the impact of
second- and third-hand smoke.
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Virender K. Rehan, MD (2015). Drug May Reverse Childhood Asthma Caused By Maternal Smoking MedicalResearch.com