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Overweight People More Likely To Have Asthma - Obesity Linked to Lung Ailment - Australian Study Found Protein That Triggers Attacks

July 14th 2006

Overweight People More Likely To Have Asthma - Obesity Linked to Lung Ailment - Australian Study Found Protein That Triggers Attacks


Australian researchers at Sydney's Garvan Institute believe there is a link between obesity and asthma and speculate that this is the reason why asthma is on the increase in Western countries.  They have found a fatty acid binding protein called aP2 in the lungs of asthma patients.

This protein has already been known for its role in diabetes and obesity.  Now they know it is present in the lungs where it is crucial in controlling inflammation in asthma.

There are various triggers, such as dust mites and pollen that bring on asthma attacks.  The scientists believe that high levels of aP2 in human lung cells trick the body into thinking it is undergoing an asthma attack.  The attack is characterized by inflammation of the airways, a tightening of the surrounding muscles, and excess mucus production.


The scientists used a technique called gene profiling to discover the genes that regulate the airway inflammation and found very high levels of aP2 in human lung cells.  One of the researchers, Bennett Shum, said “We were really surprised to find aP2 in the lung. So we then looked at what would happen when we removed this gene in mouse models: mice without aP2 are protected from asthma attacks".

Asthma project leader, Michael Rolph says “There's up to three times the risk of being asthmatic if you are obese: the more obese, the greater the risk. We know that obese asthmatics who lose weight have large improvements in their asthma."


Shum believes this may lead to a treatment for asthma. "These findings suggest that blocking aP2 function is a novel approach for asthma treatment and other inflammatory lung diseases," he said.

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Keywords and misspellings:  asma astma alergy ezema

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