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21-07-2013 | Endocrinology | Article

Metabolic syndrome ‘a risk factor for adult-onset asthma’


Free abstract

medwireNews: The metabolic syndrome and two of its components are independently associated with incident asthma in adults, an analysis of Norwegian population data suggests.

The link, if confirmed, suggests that clinicians could consider the metabolic syndrome as a marker of future asthma risk, say the study authors, writing in the European Respiratory Journal.

Ben Brumpton (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study using data collected in the second wave of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2).

They identified 23,191 adult participants who were free from wheeze and asthma at enrolment. Of these, 2971 had the metabolic syndrome, defined as the presence of three or more of: central obesity, hypertension, raised triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and abnormal glucose handling or diabetes.

Multivariate analysis revealed a significant association between the presence of the metabolic syndrome at baseline and the risk for incident asthma during an average follow up of 11 years, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.57 after adjusting for covariates.

The association between the metabolic syndrome and asthma risk was present in both women and men, with adjusted ORs of 1.69 and 1.41, respectively, Furthermore, the association was present in people with or without allergic rhinitis and in those with or without heartburn/acid reflux.

Finally, the individual components of the metabolic syndrome typically showed only weak associations with incident asthma after adjustment for covariates; only the associations for central obesity and elevated glucose/diabetes remained significant, with ORs of 1.62 and 1.43, respectively.

Commenting on their results, Brumpton et al say that increased waist circumference and abnormal glucose metabolism appear to be the factors driving the association between the metabolic syndrome and the development of asthma.

“It is generally accepted that obesity is a risk factor for adult asthma,” they write. By contrast, the association between glucose dsyregulation and asthma is “intriguing,” they say, and may be caused by systemic low-grade inflammation.

“The findings of this study warrant further research, particularly addressing the individual metabolic components and the underlying mechanisms for these associations,” they conclude. “Such work could improve the understanding of asthma pathogenesis and thereby assist ongoing efforts to prevent asthma.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Joanna Lyford, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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