Fat Cells May Trigger Asthma
Protein Made by Fat Cells Inflames Lung, May Be Obesity-Asthma Link
July 13, 2006 -- A lung-irritating protein made by fat cells may be the
missing link between obesity and asthma, say Australian
Obesity makes it about three times more likely a person will have asthma.
And when obese people with asthma lose weight, their asthma gets better, says
Michael Rolph, PhD, one of the researchers on the study.
Why the improvement?
The answer may be a protein made by fat cells, suggests a research team led
by Rolph, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Sydney,
The protein, called aP2, helps fat cells store fat molecules. Rolph, Bennett
O.V. Shum, and colleagues now show it inflames cells lining the surface of the
"We were really surprised to find aP2 in the lung," Shum said in a
news release. "We then looked at what would happen when we removed the aP2
gene in mouse models [of asthma]. Mice without aP2 are protected from asthma
And it's not just asthma. The fat-cell protein may play a role in other lung
diseases as well. That makes aP2 a target for new drugs.
"Blocking aP2 function is a novel approach for asthma treatment and
other inflammatory lung diseases," Shum said.
The findings appear in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical