Washington, Apr 9 (UNI) Inhaling chlorine produces a nerve receptor that protects healthy people by inducing sneezing, coughing and irritation but can be harmful for those suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma, a new study has warned.
The research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, revealed that chlorine triggered a nerve receptor TRPA1, in pain-sensing nerve endings in the airways.
A population of neurons fire in response to chlorine exposure, inducing pain and irritation, and narrowing airway passages to protect the lung from chlorine damage in healthy people, Yale School of Medicine researchers has stated.
However, people suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma or congestion from colds and allergies experienced a hypersensitive response to chemicals.
''In these patients, chlorine and other TRPA1 activators can trigger constriction of the bronchial pathways and cause pain and discomfort in the airways,'' corresponding author, Sven-Eric Jordt, said.
Earlier, it was believed that chlorine and other oxidants induced pain and inflammation only through tissue injury. But the research team observed that mice lacking the receptor TRPA1 were insensitive to exposure to chlorine, used in industrial synthesis, disinfection of drinking water, swimming pools and household bleach.
Interestingly, the receptor is the same one triggered by pungent mustard and noxious chemicals in cigarette smoke, says a Yale press release.
The study points to TRPA1 as a promising new target for the development of new drugs to suppress coughs and relieve pain and inflammation.
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