Does leptin play a role in obesity–asthma relationship?


Dr Xiao-Mei Mai, PhD, Research Scientist, SINTEF Health, 7465 Trondheim, Norway
Tel.: +4798245151
Fax: +4793070500


The increase of asthma has paralleled the rising obesity during the past decades. Obesity is characterized by the increase of leptin in the circulation. Leptin is an obesity gene product, and it can stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-6 and interferon (IFN)-γ. There is a link between leptin and asthma, especially in children. It remains unclear however, if leptin is in the pathway of obesity–asthma relationship and if it plays a distinctive role in asthma in obese vs. non-obese subjects. Since leptin is in a positive feedback loop with the pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, there is a possibility that leptin is involved as a regulatory rather than an etiologic mechanism of asthma development. Weight loss is associated with decreased circulating leptin concentration in children. Weight control program may need to be considered in the treatment of asthma in obese children.