Metabolism in Asthma and Obesity

Asthma and obesity have long been associated with each other, but a definitive biological link between the diseases has not yet been discovered. New research led by Serpil C. Erzurum, MD, Chair of the Department of Pathobiology in the Lerner Research Institute, suggests a metabolic mechanism that may shed light on the relationship and lead to new treatment strategies for patients with asthma.

Dr. Erzurum and her team found that energy production (known as cellular respiration or aerobic metabolism) ramps up in the presence of asthma and that this metabolic increase is caused by changes in a mitochondrial enzyme called arginase. In a preclinical asthma model, her team showed that arginase activation and availability is enhanced in asthma, allowing cells to produce more energy. Interestingly, the increased metabolism suppresses lung inflammation and protects against severe forms of asthma. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Erzurum is a pulmonologist in Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute and holds the Alfred Lerner Memorial Chair in Innovative Biomedical Research.