Asthma, oxidant stress, and diet

Nutrition. 1999 Nov-Dec;15(11-12):899-907. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(99)00209-9.


It has been suggested that the increased prevalence of atopy and asthma observed in many developed countries over the past 30 y is in part the result of a decrease in the incidence and severity of early childhood infections. The immunologic consequence of this phenomenon has been the expansion of T-lymphocyte populations away from the T-helper 1 (Th1) subset and in the direction of the Th2 subset. This leads to the creation of a cytokine-mediated propensity for the development of an intense inflammatory response in the airways, resulting in oxidative stress, airway tissue injury, and the development of atopy and asthmatic symptomatology. Over this same period, there has been a decreased intake of dietary substances that contribute to antioxidant defense, and this appears to have contributed to the rise of atopy and asthma. Studies evaluating the efficacy of these antioxidant substances in the prevention of asthma and as adjuvants in the treatment of asthma are reviewed, and suggestions are made for the direction of future studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Asthma* / genetics
  • Asthma* / immunology
  • Asthma* / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Antioxidants