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Keywords:

  • leptin;
  • adiponectin;
  • asthma;
  • allergies;
  • epidemiology

There is growing evidence for an association between obesity and asthma, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms. We hypothesized that high plasma leptin and low plasma adiponectin concentrations might be related to asthma and allergies in children. Plasma leptin and adiponectin concentrations were measured in a cross-sectional study involving 462 children aged 10 years. Information on disease symptoms and diagnosis was collected by parental questioning. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the association between biomarkers and disease. High leptin levels were associated with increased lifetime prevalence of asthma [odds ratio (OR): 3.76; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.42–9.92]. The relationship was particularly strong for non-atopic asthma (OR: 5.51; 95% CI: 1.99–17.51). No associations were observed between plasma leptin levels and hay fever, and rhinoconjunctivitis. Low adiponectin levels were associated with increased prevalence of both symptoms of atopic dermatitis (OR: 3.23; 95% CI: 1.28–7.76) and ever-diagnosed eczema (OR: 2.35; 95% CI: 1.13–4.89). In girls and non-atopic children, stronger associations for both leptin and adiponectin levels with asthma than in boys and atopic children were observed. These results suggest that adipokines may contribute to increased asthma and allergy risk in obese subjects. Stronger associations among girls with non-atopic asthma may indicate diverse pathological mechanisms.