Metabolic dysfunction and asthma: Current perspectives

Helena Pité, Laura Aguiar, Judit Morello, Emilia C. Monteiro, Ana Catarina Alves, Mafalda Bourbon, Mário Morais-Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The increasing knowledge of the mechanisms involved in metabolism is shifting the paradigms by which the pathophysiology of many pulmonary diseases is understood. Metabolic dysfunction is recognized in obesity-associated asthma, but other metabolic conditions have been shown to be independently related to asthma. Novel insights have also recently been brought by metabolomics in this filed. The purpose of this review is to discuss current perspectives regarding metabolic dysfunction in asthma, from obesity-related asthma to other metabolic conditions and the role of current pharmacological therapeutic strategies and lifestyle interventions. Obesity is a well-recognized risk factor for asthma across the lifespan, which is generally associated with poorer response to current available treatments, rendering a more severe, refractory disease status. Besides the epidemiological and clinical link, untargeted metabolomics studies have recently supported the obesity-associated asthma phenotype at the molecular level. Not only obesity-related, but also other aspects of metabolic dysregulation can be independently linked to asthma. These include hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia and hypertension, which need to be taken into account, even in the non-obese patient. Untargeted metabolomics studies have further highlighted several other metabolic pathways that can be altered in asthma, namely regarding oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, and also suggesting the importance of microbiota in asthma pathogenesis. Considering the reduced response to corticosteroids, other pharmacologic treatments have been shown to be effective regardless of body mass index. Non-pharmacologic treatments (namely weight reduction and dietary changes) may bring substantial benefit to the asthmatic patient. Taken together, this evidence points towards the need to improve our knowledge in this filed and, in particular, to address the influence of environmental factors in metabolic dysfunction and asthma development. Personalized medicine is definitely needed to optimize treatment, including a holistic view of the asthmatic patient in order to set accurate pharmacologic therapy together with dietary, physical exercise and lifestyle interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Asthma and Allergy
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Asthma
  • Diet
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolic
  • Metabolomics
  • Obesity


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