Children with asthma demonstrate significantly increased serum levels of the adipokine apelin-12, researchers report.
Furthermore, increased levels of apelin-12, which is expressed and secreted by adipocytes, were observed in both obese and normal-weight children with asthma.
The findings, published in Respiratory Medicine, suggest that "this adipokine may be implicated in the pathogenesis of childhood atopic asthma," say Alicja Kasperska-Zajac (Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland) and team.
The researchers studied 89 children (61 boys), aged 7-17 years, with atopic asthma and 33 age- and gender-matched children without the condition.
Of the children with asthma, 30 (21 boys and nine girls) were obese, with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 24.6 kg/m2, and 59 (19 girls and 40 boys) were of normal weight, with a mean BMI of 18.3 kg/m2. All of the control children were of normal weight, with a mean BMI 18.3 kg/m2.
Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the team found that obese and normal-weight boys with asthma had significantly higher serum apelin-12 concentrations than control boys, at 167.8 and 163.9 versus 124.8 pg/mL, respectively.
Similarly, serum apelin-12 levels were significantly higher among obese and normal-weight girls with asthma compared with controls girls, at 188.9 and 186.2 versus 134.4 pg/mL, respectively.
Mean apelin-12 levels in girls with asthma were significantly higher than in boys with asthma. In the control group, there were no significant gender differences in apelin-12 levels.
There was no linear correlation between apelin-12 levels and BMI or BMI-standard deviation score among all the children. In those with asthma, apelin-12 did not relate to asthma severity, lung function measurements (spirometry), or degree of allergic sensitization.
Kasperska-Zajac et al conclude: "These findings suggest the potential association between apelin and atopic asthma.
"However, apelin -12 has limited value as potential biomarker in estimation of atopic asthma severity and degree of allergic sensitization."
They add: "Although this was a cross-sectional study with a relatively small sample size, we believe that our data may be a basis for further studies evaluating the possible role of adipokines in childhood atopic asthma pathogenesis."
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