Effect of Obesity on Asthma Phenotype is Dependent upon Asthma Severity.

J Asthma. 2010 Nov 22. Raviv S, Dixon AE, Kalhan R, Shade D, Smith LJ. Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Northshore University Health System, Evanston, IL, USA.

Background: We recently reported that obese and non-obese patients with asthma have similar airflow limitation and bronchodilator responsiveness, but obese patients have more symptoms overall. There is limited information on the effect of obesity on asthmatics of varying severity measured by objective physiological parameters. Understanding how obesity affects asthmatics of differing severity can provide insights into the pathogenesis of asthma in the obese and a rationale for the therapeutic approach to such patients.

Methods: Participants with asthma from two American Lung Association-Asthma Clinical Research Center (ALA-ACRC) studies were grouped by tertiles of airflow obstruction (forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)%) predicted, FEV(1)/forced vital capacity (FVC)) and methacholine reactivity (PC(20)FEV(1)). Within each tertile, we examined the independent effect of body mass index (BMI), divided into normal weight, overweight, and obese categories, on lung function, airway reactivity, and symptoms.

Results: Overall, both FEV(1) and FVC decreased and symptoms worsened with increasing BMI; airway reactivity was unchanged. When stratified by the degree of airflow obstruction, higher BMI was not associated with greater airway reactivity to methacholine. Higher BMI was associated with more asthma symptoms only in the least obstructed FEV(1)/FVC tertile. When stratified by degree of airway reactivity, BMI was inversely associated with FVC in all PC(20)FEV(1) tertiles. BMI was directly associated with asthma symptoms only in those with the least airway reactivity.

Conclusions: Obesity does not influence airway reactivity in patients with asthma and it is associated with more symptoms only in those with less severe disease.

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