Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. The inflammatory response in asthma is heterogeneous. Allergen
specific responses lead to activation of the acquired immune system, via a predominantly IL-5 mediated, eosinophilic pathway. Stimuli
such as viruses and bacteria activate the innate immune system, via a predominantly IL-8 mediated, neutrophilic pathway. Asthma has
also been demonstrated to involve a systemic inflammatory component.
Glucocorticoids are the predominant pharmacological treatment used to control inflammation in asthma. However, compliance with
medications can be compromised due to patient concerns about side effects. Hence dietary interventions that target the inflammatory response
in asthma have great potential.
Various aspects of dietary intake are known to modulate inflammation. Saturated fatty acids can induce an inflammatory response via activation
of pattern recognition receptors. Omega-3 fatty acids can be anti-inflammatory, via mechanisms such as modification of eicosanoid
production. Antioxidants can have anti-inflammatory effects as they scavenge free radicals, preventing activation of transcription
factors including NF-κB. Chronic excess energy intake can lead to obesity, which augments inflammation due to the release of inflammatory
mediators by adipose tissue. Here we review the role of these dietary components in asthma.