High-Fat a No-No For Asthma Patients

Photo: A hamburger and chips on a plate

Fat is especially unhealthy for
asthma patients; © SXC

The high fat meal also appeared to inhibit the response to the asthma reliever medication Ventolin (albuterol). The high fat meal impaired the asthmatic response to albuterol. In subjects who had consumed a high fat meal, the post-albuterol improvement in lung function at three and four hours was suppressed, according to the researchers.

High dietary fat intake has previously been shown to activate the immune response, leading to an increase in blood markers of inflammation. However, the effect of a high fat meal on airway inflammation, which contributes to asthma, had not been investigated.

Researchers recruited 40 asthmatic subjects who were randomized to receive either a high-fat, high-calorie “food challenge”, consisting of fast food burgers and hash browns containing about 1,000 calories, 52 percent of which were from fat; or a low-fat, low-calorie meal consisting of reduced fat yogurt, containing about 200 calories, and 13 percent fat. Sputum samples were collected before the meal and four hours afterward, and analyzed for inflammatory markers.

Subjects who had consumed the high-fat meal had a marked increase in airway neutrophils and TLR4 mRNA gene expression. TLR4 is a cell surface receptor that is activated by nutritional fatty acids: TLR4 ‘senses’ the presence of saturated fatty acids, and prompts the cell to respond to the fatty acids as if they were an invading pathogen, releasing inflammatory mediators. While the study didn’t definitively distinguish between high fat and high energy, this increase in TLR4 activity suggests that dietary fat is important to the effects.

Subjects who had consumed the high fat meal also had reduced bronchodilator response as measured by FEV1% predicted and FEV1/FVC%, when compared to those had consumed the low-fat meal. The observation that a high fat meal changes the asthmatic response to albuterol was unexpected by the researchers. The mechanism by which a high fat meal could change the bronchodilator response requires further investigation.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Thoracic Society (ATS)