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Systemic inflammation mediates the detrimental effects of obesity on asthma control

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Obesity negatively impacts asthma control, but the inflammatory mechanisms are poorly understood.


To explore which systemic inflammatory mediators mediate the effects of obesity on asthma control.


The subjects with stable asthma (n = 108) underwent assessment of clinical characteristics, which included using The Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ)-6. Obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of ≥30 kg/m2, overweight was defined as BMI between 25 to 29.9 kg/m2, and lean weight was defined as BMI < 25 kg/m2. Body composition, including fat mass (FM), visceral fat area (VFA), and percentage body fat (PBF) was analyzed by bioimpedance. Serum interleukin (IL) 4, IL-5, IL-8, IL-13, IL-17, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand (CCL) 17, CCL22, leptin, adiponectin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and interferon (IFN) gamma were measured by using ELISA. Linear regression models were fitted according to the Baron and Kenny procedures for mediation analysis.


FM (12.73 ± 3.95 versus 18.59 ± 2.95 versus 27.82 ± 5.17 kg; p < 0.0001), VFA (65.99 ± 23.17 versus 93.96 ± 10.28 versus 123.10 ± 18.34 cm2; p < 0.0001), PBF (23.86 ± 7.46 versus 30.74 ± 5.08 versus 36.21 ± 6.28 %; p = 0.0003) and ACQ-6 values (0.83 [0, 1.17]) versus 1.15 [0.50, 1.75] versus 1.33 [0.83, 1.83] score; p = 0.002) were different among lean (n = 52), overweight (n = 37), and obese (n = 19) subjects. Serum levels of leptin, IL-5, IL-13, IL-17, CCL17, CRP, and IFN-gamma in the obese group were significantly elevated compared with the subjects who were lean or overweight (all p < 0.05). The mediation analyses found that the effect of obesity, assessed by BMI, on ACQ-6 was significantly mediated through IL-13 and CCL17. Furthermore, IL-13 and CCL17 mediated the effects of body composition (FM, VFA and PBF) on ACQ-6. The effects of obesity assessed by body composition, but not by using BMI, on ACQ-6 were mediated by leptin.


Our mediation analysis confirmed that systemic inflammation biomarkers, such as leptin, CCL17, IL-4, and IL-13, mediated the effects of obesity on asthma control. This warrants prospective exploration in this distinct asthma phenotype in the future.
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Keywords: Asthma; asthma control; body composition; body mass index; mediation analysis; obesity; systemic inflammation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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