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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Feb;5(1):17-21.

Atopic march: link to upper airways.

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Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



This review examines the role of the upper airways in the atopic march. Evidence examining the theory that allergic rhinitis precedes asthma will be discussed. In addition, the role of allergic rhinitis as an end point in the atopic march will be reviewed.


Ciprandi and colleagues found that nasal symptoms, airflow and markers of inflammation (eosinophils, cytokine levels) directly correlated with lower airway markers. This confirms previous studies finding that many patients with allergic rhinitis have lower airway hyperreactivity or bronchial hyperresponsiveness and the link between upper and lower airways. Leynaert and colleagues questioned over 90 000 individuals and found that patients with rhinitis have increased risk for asthma and lower airway reactivity compared with patients without rhinitis. In the German Multicenter Atopy Study, a longitudinal study of 1300 children, patients with atopic dermatitis were found to have increased risk for asthma at 7 years of age. Patients with atopic dermatitis and no wheezing in the first 3 years, however, did not have an increased risk for developing current wheezing or bronchial hyperresponsiveness at 7 years of age. It was proposed that atopic dermatitis and asthma are linked, but atopic dermatitis does not precede asthma.


Allergic rhinitis is a risk factor for asthma and can precede asthma in the atopic march.

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