Airway hyperresponsiveness is negatively associated with obesity or overweight status in patients with asthma

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2012;159(2):187-93. doi: 10.1159/000335926. Epub 2012 Jun 1.


Background: Obesity is a risk factor for asthma in the general population, but the effect of obesity on airway hyperresponsiveness (AFHR) or airway inflammation in asthma is not clear. This study evaluated the relationship between obesity and asthma, assessing aspects of symptoms, AHR, and severity.

Methods: In total, 852 patients with asthma diagnosed by asthma specialists based on AHR as confirmed by a methacholine bronchial provocation test, were enrolled from the Cohort for Reality and Evolution of Adult Asthma in Korea (COREA) adult asthma cohort. The intensity of AHR was assessed by the concentration of methacholine needed to cause a 20% decrease in FEV(1) (PC(20)). Patients were classified into four categories based on body mass index (BMI): underweight (<18.5), normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25.0-29.9), and obese (≥30).

Results: BMI was negatively correlated with FEV(1) (l), FVC (l), and FEV(1)/FVC (%) in lung function tests. The prevalence of wheezing increased with higher BMI after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, medication history, and PC(20) (p < 0.0001). logPC(20) was lower in the normal weight group compared with the overweight group (p = 0.003). The risk of moderate or severe AHR (PC(20) ≤ 4 mg/ml) decreased with increased BMI after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, and medication history (p = 0.035).

Conclusions: Obesity is a risk factor for asthma in the general population, but obesity in asthmatic patients is negatively correlated with the intensity of AHR and is not related to asthma severity. Obesity is positively related with the prevalence of wheezing but negatively related to AHR in asthmatic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / complications*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Overweight / physiopathology*
  • Republic of Korea
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Risk Factors
  • Thinness / complications
  • Thinness / physiopathology
  • Young Adult