Acetaminophen inflammatory markers and asthma

The Foundation's Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars Program was designed to support the career development of outstanding young faculty in academic departments/divisions of family practice, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics. This grant supports a study on acetaminophen inflammatory markers and asthma. Asthma continues to increase in the U.S. and exerts enormous morbidity and mortality, yet reasons for this rise are not well explained. Acetaminophen use has increased progressively over the last 2-3 decades, particularly among children and young adults. The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that acetaminophen use increases risk of adult-onset chronic asthma in a large, prospective cohort study and will examine the contribution of acetaminophen use to acute asthma exacerbations in an emergency department-based study. To assess prospectively the association of acetaminophen use and acute asthma, the study proposes to examine analgesic use among patients presenting to the Columbia-Presbyterian Emergency Department, as part of the Multicenter Airway Research Collaboration (MARC). Questionnaire-based methodology used successfully in multiple prior MARC studies will be employed to collect data on cases, emergency department-based controls, and controls with stable asthma. To confirm the effects of acetaminophen, and to allow assessment of inflammatory markers, they plan to collect blood on a subset of participants in the prospective study. Acetaminophen reduces levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects against bronchial hyperresponsiveness in the lung. Glutathione relates to production of other inflammatory mediators. Inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and eotaxin may mediate the association of other factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and estrogen, which have previously been shown to be associated with chronic asthma. Acetaminophen is a frequently used, over-the-counter medication which preliminary evidence suggests is associated with asthma. If this association is confirmed, particularly with biological evidence, it will have important implications for the treatment of asthma and for public education about antipyretic use. Analysis of inflammatory mediators may provide mechanistic insights into population-level increases in asthma prevalence.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $300,000.00

Awarded on: 6/25/2001

Time frame: 7/1/2001 - 6/30/2006

Grant Number: 42211


Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

630 West 168th Street
New York, 10032-3725


R. Graham Barr
Project Director