Blood lipid profile tied to childhood asthma and bronchial responsiveness

By Will Boggs MD

Blood lipid profiles are associated with childhood asthma, airway obstruction, bronchial responsiveness, and aeroallergen sensitization, researchers from Denmark report.

Dr. Hans Bisgaard from the University of Copenhagen told Reuters Health by email that he was surprised by the "significant association between serum lipids and asthma and allergy. This association is similar to the association found between serum lipids and other chronic inflammatory disorders."

Previous studies examining the relationship between the blood lipids and asthma have yielded ambiguous results, despite the association of hypercholesterolemia with a skewing of the adaptive immune response toward a TH2-oriented response, which is also seen in asthma and related disorders.

Dr. Bisgaard's team investigated the possible relationship between blood lipid levels, asthma, lung function, sensitization and allergic rhinitis in 296 7-year-old children born to mothers with a diagnosis of asthma.

Increasing LDL-cholesterol levels were associated with a 93% increase in the odds of concurrent asthma after adjustment and a significantly increased risk of airway obstruction, the researchers reported July 3 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In contrast, high HDL-cholesterol levels were associated with significantly improved airway flow, decreased bronchial responsiveness, 73% lower odds of sensitization against aeroallergens, and a nonsignificant reduced risk of allergic rhinitis.

High triglyceride levels were significantly associated with a doubling of the risk of aeroallergen sensitization, but not with the other measures.

Dr. Bisgaard said there are no immediate clinical implications of these findings.

"The study is seeking to understand the origins and mechanisms of chronic inflammatory disorders such as asthma and allergy," he said. "This insight will build the foundation for future prevention and treatment."

The researchers add, "Further longitudinal studies are required to evaluate a potential modifiable link between an unhealthy blood lipid profile and asthma and allergic sensitization."

Dr. Yang-Ching Chen from Taipei City Hospital in Taiwan, who was not involved in the new work, also found a link between LDL-cholesterol and asthma in an earlier study.

"Our data identified a trend of increasing levels of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in the group order obese asthmatics > non-obese asthmatics > obese controls > non-obese controls," Dr. Chen told Reuters Health by email. "Prevention of childhood obesity and related hyperlipidemia should be emphasized in obese asthmatic children."

"Further studies might focus on the possible detailed mechanisms of hyperlipidemia in asthmatics," Dr. Chen added.


J Allergy Clin Immunol 2015.

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