Multidisciplinary Team Explores Link Between Asthma and Depression

August 16, 2019
Heidi Anne Duerr, MPH

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Montefiore Health System, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine are working together to examine the link between depression and asthma in older adults.

RESEARCH UPDATE

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Montefiore Health System, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine are working together to examine the link between depression and asthma in older adults.1

Funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the study will consist of 400 patients over the age of 60 who have persistent asthma and are receiving an asthma-control medication; half of the patients also will have comorbid major depression. Participants will represent socio-demographics of most US urban communities and will include English and Spanish-speaking adults. The 4-year study, which is scheduled to begin in September,  will assess patients for depression, inflammation, and medication adherence at study initiation and again at 6, 12, and 18 months.

Previous research has found high prevalence of depression and anxiety in patients with asthma. Studies further show that both disorders negatively impact the other and proper treatment may have positive effects for both asthma and the psychiatric disorders.2 Similarly, depression has been linked to changes in inflammation. Since asthma also impacts inflammation, the researchers hypothesized that the combination leads to worse clinical outcomes.

“People with asthma and depression are impacted in two ways-they have greater inflammation of the lung’s airways and are less likely to take their daily controller medications, which are the first line of defense,” explained Jonathan Feldman, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “We know that depression leads to worse outcomes in patients with asthma, so we want to take a closer look at what is happening-both emotionally and physiologically.”1

As a result, the $3.4 million study will utilize a multidisciplinary approach. “We have put together a multidisciplinary team of experts in psychology, behavioral medicine, chronic disease self-management, and inflammation to disentangle the mechanisms underlying the relationship between depression and worse asthma outcomes,” Juan Wisnivesky, MD, DrPH, Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a statement to the press. “Our study may identify novel targets for asthma therapy as well as help develop behavioral interventions for self-management.”1

References:

1. Press release. First-of-its kind research examines the relationship between asthma control and depression. Mount Sinai Newsroom. https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2019/first-of-its-kind-research-examines-the-relationship-between-asthma-control-and-depression. Accessed August 16, 2019.

2. Sastre J, Crespo A, Fernandez-Sanchez A et al. Anxiety, depression, and asthma control: changes after standardized treatment. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018; 6:1953-1959.