Changes in gut function caused by weight gain are linked to an increase in the severity of asthma, according to research that will be presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate. Gaining weight, according to the study, is connected with higher levels of inflammation, indications of gut permeability, and less effective asthma control. These findings suggest not only to weight loss as a viable therapy option for individuals with severe asthma symptoms, but also to the stomach as an additional therapeutic target for improving asthma control in obese patients.
It has previously been proven that gaining weight modifies the nature of the bacteria in the gut, perhaps increasing gut permeability. A “leaky gut” can let deadly pathogens into the circulation, triggering inflammatory responses throughout the body. Obesity has been linked to an increase in the severity of chronic inflammatory disorders such as asthma. Although it is common, poorly treated asthma can have serious side effects such as tiredness, lung infections, and an increased chance of life-threatening asthma episodes. There has been no previous research on how increasing intestinal permeability may affect asthma management.
Cristina Parenti and colleagues at Nottingham Trent University studied the symptoms of 98 people with severe asthma, as well as the relationship between body weight and gut permeability. Patients with a lean-to-obese body mass index (BMI) reported their symptoms using the Asthma Control Questionnaire-6. Blood tests were used to measure asthma-related inflammatory markers and gut permeability markers (lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LPB) and calprotectin) (granzyme-A, IL-5, IL-6, CCL-4). LBP levels were significantly higher in individuals with poorly controlled asthma, and they increased with body weight. Rising LBP concentrations are associated with increased levels of inflammatory markers related to asthma.
Lead investigator, Cristina Parenti, commented, “We have found a significant link between gut permeability, being overweight and poor asthma control, particularly in people with obesity. This suggests that dietary interventions to improve gut barrier function may be an effective, alternative treatment target for asthma patients who are overweight or have obesity.”
The current study comprised just a limited number of people with severe, uncontrolled asthma. The researchers plan to engage additional participants in the study, look at the results in people with well-controlled asthma across a variety of BMIs, and see if focusing on the stomach can benefit people with asthma management.
“Our preliminary findings indicate that increased gut permeability is likely to be a factor in worsening asthma symptoms in obese patients, so it will be interesting to see if dietary interventions can improve symptoms for these patients,” Cristina Parenti concluded.