Is impaired glucose metabolism the missing piece in the obesity-asthma puzzle?
Obesity is a major risk factor for several conditions including atherosclerotic disease, metabolic syndrome, and upper airway dysfunction. However, the purported link between obesity and asthma has remained more difficult to define, in part due to limitations in past epidemiologic studies and the inherent challenge in accurately defining asthma in children. It is possible that obesity leads to asthma only in the presence of a mediating variable such as an obesity-related conditions such as esophageal reflux or insulin resistance. The article by Karampatakis and colleagues in this week's edition of the journal is important because it addresses the hypothesis that altered glucose metabolism/insulin resistance associates with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), a central and objectively measured marker of asthma. They studied pre-pubertal children with and without asthma with a range of body mass indices and found for the first time in pre-pubertal asthmatic children that both insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance were more closely related to BHR than was obesity. Their work opens the way for directed mechanistic study of the effects of impaired glucose metabolism on airway development during childhood and airway responsiveness, and for the study of insulin sensitizing therapies in children to prevent lower airway disease. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017;52:147-150. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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