Changes in gut function brought on by weight gain have been associated with an increase in severe symptoms of asthma, according to new research.
A new study from Nottingham Trent University has found significant associations between increased body weight, gut permeability, and poorer control of asthma. The findings suggest that losing weight could improve symptoms of asthma. They also identify the gut as a potential alternative therapeutic target for improving asthma control in patients with obesity.
These findings not only suggest that losing weight could improve symptoms for patients with severe asthma but also highlights the gut as a potential, alternative therapeutic target for improving asthma control in patients with obesity.
The findings will be presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Severe symptoms of asthma can lead to serious health issues
It has previously been established that weight gain can alter the composition of gut bacteria, which can lead to gut permeability. A ‘leaky gut’ can allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which can trigger inflammatory responses in the body. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition, as is known to be exacerbated in patients with obesity.
It is common for poorly controlled asthma to lead to serious complications such as fatigue, lung infections and an increased risk of life-threatening severe asthma attacks. However, how increased gut permeability may affect symptoms of asthma has not yet been investigated.
The researchers from Nottingham Trent University, led by Cristina Parenti, examined the relationship between body weight and gut permeability with the symptoms of asthma in 98 patients with severe cases of the condition.
Patients with an obese body mass index (BMI) reported symptoms using the Asthma Control Questionnaire-6. Blood tests were used to measure levels of lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LPB), a marker of gut permeability. Levels of granzyme-A, IL-5, IL-6, and CCL-4 were also measured as markers of asthma-related inflammation.
LBP levels increased with weight gain
The researchers found that patients with poorly controlled symptoms of asthma had significantly higher levels of LBP, which rose with increasing body weight. Concentrations of LBP also correlated increased with higher levels of asthma-related inflammatory markers.
“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,” said Parenti.
The study included a relatively small number of patients with severe, uncontrolled symptoms of asthma. The research team are planning to recruit more patients for the study and to investigate the effects on participants with well-controlled asthma, over a range of BMIs. The researchers also want to examine whether targeting the gut can improve asthma treatment.
“Our initial findings show that increased gut permeability is likely to be a factor in worsening asthma symptoms in patients with obesity, so it will be interesting to look at whether dietary interventions can improve symptoms for these patients,” Parenti concluded.