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Many people with asthma also suffer from anxiety. A common nasal spray, fluticasone propionate, alleviates asthma and anxiety while improving neural activity and inflammation levels. 

Allergic asthma is a common respiratory disease that causes shortness of breath, among other respiratory symptoms. Patients with asthma are more likely to experience anxiety, and these individuals tend to be more resistant to treatment.

In a recent study using rats, published in the journal Life Sciences, researchers observed activity in the brain regions responsible for anxiety. They investigated whether allergen-induced asthmatic symptoms changed the brain’s responses and anxiety behaviors and whether a common inhaled asthma treatment could control anxiety and its underlying neural basis.

Allergic asthma is associated with altered activity in the brain’s emotional centers, particularly those controlling anxiety. The neuroimmune system may be responsible for these changes, as inflammation is a feature of psychiatric disorders. Anxiety is tightly associated with amygdala–medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activity, in which the amygdala probes the environment for fear cues, and the mPFC regulates the behavioral response through inhibitory mechanisms.

Rats in the study with allergen-induced asthma were more anxious than control rats. Allergen-induced asthma also increased coherent, or synchronous, activity between the amygdala and mPFC, and each of these regions showed more inflammation than in control rats. The researchers then tested whether pretreatment with a common corticosteroid, fluticasone propionate, would prevent the asthmatic profile. The treatment had beneficial effects on lung and brain inflammation, anxiety behavior, and amygdala–mPFC coherence.

Given the co-occurrence of anxiety and asthma, treatments that can address the symptoms of both issues are preferred. The anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and neurological effects of fluticasone propionate provide a basis for integrating mental health into asthma treatment.

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Dehdar, K., Mooziri, M., Samii Moghaddam, A., Salimi, M., Nazari, M., Dehghan, S., Jamaati, H., Salimi, A., & Raoufy, M. R. (2023). Corticosteroid treatment attenuates anxiety and mPFC-amygdala circuit dysfunction in allergic asthma. Life Sci, 315, 121373. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2023.121373