Asthma and type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) are two of the most frequent chronic diseases in children, representing a model of the atopic and autoimmune diseases respectively. These two groups of disorders are mediated by different immunological pathways, T helper (Th)1 for diabetes and Th2 for asthma. For many years, these two groups were thought to be mutually exclusive according to the Th1/Th2 paradigm. In children, the incidence of both diseases is steadily increasing worldwide. In this narrative review, we report the evidence of the potential link between asthma and T1DM in childhood. We discuss which molecular mechanisms could be involved in the link between asthma and T1DM, such as genetic predisposition, cytokine patterns, and environmental influences. Cytokine profile of children with asthma and T1DM shows an activation of both Th1 and Th2 pathways, suggesting a complex genetic-epigenetic interaction. In conclusion, in children, the potential link between asthma and T1DM needs further investigation to improve the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to these patients. The aim of this review is to invite the pediatricians to consider the potential copresence of these two disorders in clinical practice.
Keywords: Th1/Th2 paradigm; asthma; children; coaggregation; cytokines; genetic; hygiene hypothesis; regulatory T lymphocytes; type 1 diabetes.