Thorax 61:300-305 doi:10.1136/thx.2004.031468
  • Asthma

Association between leptin and asthma in adults

  1. A Sood1,
  2. E S Ford2,
  3. C A Camargo Jr3
  1. 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, USA
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
  3. 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A Sood
    Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, 701 North First Street, Room D434, P O Box 19636, Springfield, IL 62794-9636, USA; asood2{at}
  • Received 12 July 2004
  • Accepted 11 January 2006
  • Published Online First 15 March 2006


Background: Leptin, a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced by adipose tissue, has previously been shown to be associated with asthma in children. We hypothesised that high serum leptin concentrations would also be associated with asthma in adults.

Methods: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a cross sectional study that included fasting serum leptin concentrations and self-report of doctor diagnosed asthma. Data were analysed using multivariable logistic regression analysis.

Results: Of 5876 participants, those with current asthma had a higher mean unadjusted leptin concentration than those who had never had asthma (geometric mean (SE) 9.2 (0.6) μg/l v 7.6 (0.2) μg/l; p = 0.02). After adjustment for triceps skinfold thickness and other covariates, the association between leptin and asthma appeared stronger in women than in men, and in premenopausal women than in postmenopausal women. Body mass index (BMI) was also associated with current asthma in women, but this association was not significantly affected by adjustment for leptin concentrations.

Conclusions: The results of this large population based study support the hypothesis that leptin is associated with asthma in women. In addition, while BMI also is related to asthma in women, this study does not support the suggestion that leptin contributes significantly to this association.


  • No sponsorship was obtained for this study. There is no author involvement with organisation(s) with financial interest in the subject matter. Dr Carlos Camargo is supported in part by grant AI-52338 from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

  • Competing interests: none.