Genetic Link Between Obesity and Asthma

First Posted: Jul 18, 2013 02:30 PM EDT

Researchers at the University of Buffalo believe that chronic inflammation in asthma may be more active in people who are overweight or obese.

"Our findings point the way to the management of asthma in the obese through simple weight reduction," said first author Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University at Buffalo, via a press release.

Scientists found that four genes associated with chronic inflammation in asthma were more active in obese and morbidly obese people by up to 100 percent in some cases.

According to background information from the study, this increased gene expression matters because it may cause white blood cells called mononuclear cells to produce far greater amounts of inflammatory factors such as interleukin 4, LIGHT and lymphotoxinB receptor that is responsible for allergic inflammation and other abnormalities in the bronchial passes in asthma.

MMP-9 and nitric oxide was also found in higher concentrations among the obese and morbidly obese patients. Both can cause inflammation and oxidative stress.

After gastric bypass surgery in morbidly obese diabetic patients, MMP-9 and NOM levels dropped significantly, as well as the six asthma related genes.

"Ours is the first study to provide a mechanistic link between obesity and asthma through biological/immunological mechanisms," Dandona said, via the release. "There has been, until now, no biological, mechanistic explanation other than the fact that obesity may raise the diaphragm and thus reduce lung volumes."

Researchers note the established connection found between Type 2 diabetes, obesity and asthma based on biological mechanisms links another health issue towards the already known connection of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. More studies could provide an in-depth look that could help provide future treatments for Diabetes and asthma. 

More information regarding the study can be found in the journal Obesity.  

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