Levels of leptin, a protein implicated in the body’s regulation of fat, are increased in children with newly diagnosed asthma — and leptin levels fall after effective treatment with steroid drugs, according to a report in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
There is some controversy over the relationship of leptin and asthma, Dr. Fuat Gurkan, from Dicle University Hospital, Diyabakir, Turkey, told Reuters Health. According to their study findings, the leptin and asthma relationship might be related to leptin’s role in the inflammatory response in asthma, rather than its role in body weight.Previous studies have investigated the relationship between blood levels of leptin and autoimmune diseases (but not asthma), the authors explain, and some studies have shown leptin levels to increase with steroid administration.To further investigate, Gurkan and colleagues measured leptin levels before and after steroid therapy in 23 children with newly diagnosed asthma and in 20 children without asthma who were matched for age and sex (controls).At the beginning of the study, the average leptin levels were higher in asthmatic children than in controls, the authors report. But after four weeks of steroid treatment, leptin levels were not significantly different from those of controls.Leptin levels were inversely correlated with lung function test results, before and after steroid treatment, the researchers note, but correlated with the subjects’ weight only after steroid therapy.Researchers “from our country have recently reported similar findings of elevated leptin levels in asthmatic children and raised the question if leptin could have a role in childhood asthma,” Gurkan said. “Since the exact role is not known it may be possible that leptin levels simply reflect ongoing stress.””Further research…is essential to explain the exact mechanism,” the authors conclude.(SOURCE: Reuters, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, September 2004.)