Biological Clock May Affect Asthma Side Effects

Cryptochromes may be targeted by new asthma medication to reduce high blood sugar

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) While the idea of your body telling you to go to sleep may seem simple, it's actually a very complex process. In fact, that process also impacts certain side effects in asthma and allergy medications.

A new study found that the processes involved with the body's biological clock interact with hormones that are targeted by asthma and allergy drugs.

Targeting proteins involved with the body's biological clock could lead to better treatments and reduction in serious side effects of asthma and allergy drugs.

"Asthmatics with diabetes should talk to a physician before using asthma medication."

Cryptochromes, which are proteins, tell the body when to process nutrients, but also interact with glucocorticoids according to a new study led by Ronald M. Evans for the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Researchers believe they could possibly reduce high blood sugar from asthma medication by adjusting the time of day a patient takes their medication or by developing medication that targets cryptochromes.

Glucocorticoids are hormones that the body naturally produces. Asthma and allergy medications use glucocorticoids, usually inhaled, as a way to battle inflammation. 

Glucocorticoids also play a role in regulating how much sugar is in a person's blood. Higher doses of inhaled glucocorticoids can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can also affect insulin resistance and create diabetic complications.

Cryptochromes tell the body to reduce nutrient metabolism at night but turn off in the morning so the body can go back to normal metabolic function. Cryptochromes also regulate glucocorticoids, which affect sugar regulation.

Since cryptochrome levels rise and fall during the day, doctors could factor in cryptochrome levels when administering or prescribing asthma medication. Researchers suggest that new drugs could target cryptochrome levels instead of glucocorticoids to further reduce side effects.

This is just the beginning of discovering what role cryptochromes may play in asthma treatments. Future studies can involve humans and figuring out if the time of day affects cryptochrome levels or metabolic function.

Scientists are optimistic about the usefulness of this discovery. Understanding how asthma medication could disrupt normal metabolic function can ease certain side effects. Since asthma affects so many people, new ways to provide safer treatments are always a priority for researchers. 

The study was published in the December edition of Nature.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 20, 2011
Last Updated:
December 24, 2011