Researchers at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) in Denmark recently reported that lipid levels in the blood of children are associated with respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and is entitled “Blood lipid levels associate with childhood asthma, airway obstruction, bronchial hyper responsiveness, and aeroallergen sensitization.”
Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by airflow obstruction that causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. The respiratory disorder is thought to be caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental factors, and is estimated to affect 27 million individuals in the United States.
Dyslipidemia, an abnormal lipid metabolism, is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and has also been associated with disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and atherosclerosis. Its possible association with lung diseases is, however, poorly elucidated.
The goal of the study was to assess lipid profiles in children with asthma. In total, 301 children from the COPSAC cohort aged between 5 and 7 years were evaluated in terms of blood lipid profile and possible link to concurrent asthma, altered lung function and allergic sensitization. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, the “good” cholesterol), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, the “bad” cholesterol) and triglyceride levels were determined.
Concerning the lung function, researchers found that high HDL-C levels were associated with an improved specific airway resistance and a decreased bronchial responsiveness in children, while high levels of LDL-C were found to be linked to asthma and airway obstruction. No correlation was found between triglyceride levels and lung function measures.
In terms of allergen sensitization, the team found that high HDL-C levels reduced the risk for sensitization against aeroallergens. On the other hand, high triglyceride levels were found to increase this risk.
The research team concluded that the blood lipid levels in children are associated with asthma, airway obstruction, bronchial responsiveness and sensitization to aeroallergens. The team suggests that asthma and allergies share certain features such as dyslipidemia with other chronic inflammatory disorders.
“Our study shows that the blood lipid profile known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases also confers a risk of asthma and allergy in childhood, suggesting that the same treatment regimen could be relevant for those diseases as well,” wrote the research team according to a news release. “The findings of our study encourage performance of randomized controlled trials investigating whether children with asthma and traits of dyslipidemia would benefit from dietary changes, increased activity, and for some subgroups, perhaps statin treatment.”
Statins are a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels). Statins have also been shown to have other clinical benefits based on their anti-inflammatory properties.