Futurity.org – Amino acid linked to asthma, obesity combo

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The relationship between asthma and obesity is in many ways a conundrum, says the study’s lead author, Fernando Holguin, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Asthma Institute.

Straight from the Source

Read the original study

DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201207-1270OC

A person who has severe asthma may require frequent steroid treatments and limit his or her activity, resulting in weight gain; in others, obesity seems to aggravate or even initiate asthma symptoms.

“Obese asthma patients tend to have worse symptoms, more frequent episodes of breathing difficulty, and don’t respond as readily to conventional treatments,” says Holguin, whose findings appear in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“Our study supports the premise that asthma is a multifactorial condition that can be triggered by a variety of underlying problems.” Interventions to improve clinically meaningful outcomes may need to be personalized to the type of asthmatic condition that patient has.

Patients who are obese and develop asthma as adults tend to exhale lower levels of nitric oxide (NO), a compound that relaxes blood vessels and is thought to play a similar role in airways.

The researchers collected blood samples from 155 adults, nearly half of whom had severe asthma and half of whom were obese. The team found that compared to early-onset asthma patients, late-onset obese asthma patients had lower plasma levels of the amino acid arginine and higher levels of an arginine metabolite called ADMA, which interferes with NO production.

“In healthy people, a balance is maintained between arginine and ADMA ensuring normal levels of airway NO,” Holguin says.

“But in obese, adult-onset asthma, the lower arginine and higher ADMA reduces airway NO levels. This finding is promising because it suggests that increasing arginine could restore NO levels and its positive effect on airways.” This might translate into patients having less wheezing and shortness of breath.

Arginine is readily available over the counter as a dietary supplement, but it is rapidly metabolized by the body and reduces its practicality as a treatment, he says. Another supplement called citrulline is known to enhance arginine production, and can be taken in high doses without ill effects.

“We will soon begin a small pilot study to see whether citrulline supplements can help alleviate symptoms in patients who fit this profile of late-onset asthma, obesity and decreased exhaled NO,” says Holguin.

Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as well as from the Cleveland Clinic, Wake Forest University, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, Washington University, Emory University, University of Virginia, Harvard University, and Imperial College London.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

Futurity.org – Amino acid linked to asthma, obesity combo

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DiggStumbleUponRedditDeliciousTechnorati FavoritesYahoo BookmarksGoogle BookmarksGoogle BuzzYahoo BuzzNewsVineLiveJournalTypePad PostWordPressBlogger PostTumblrPosterousMySpaceLinkedInGoogle ReaderFriendFeedInstapaperEvernoteSlashdotMixxFarkBeboOrkutNetvibes Share 

Republish this article

Creative Commons License

The text of this article by Futurity is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License.

More
Health Medicine

Pain drug may prevent preemie lung damage

Pain drug may prevent preemie lung damage

Infants’ slow gaze may signal autism later

Infants’ slow gaze may signal autism later

Freshman brains change with images of alcohol

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For infants, high-carb diet sets metabolism

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Sleeping teens reveal how brain matures

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Physical exam still key to prostate screening

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Faster MRI finds disease with ‘fingerprints’

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The relationship between asthma and obesity is in many ways a conundrum, says the study’s lead author, Fernando Holguin, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Asthma Institute.

Straight from the Source

Read the original study

DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201207-1270OC

A person who has severe asthma may require frequent steroid treatments and limit his or her activity, resulting in weight gain; in others, obesity seems to aggravate or even initiate asthma symptoms.

“Obese asthma patients tend to have worse symptoms, more frequent episodes of breathing difficulty, and don’t respond as readily to conventional treatments,” says Holguin, whose findings appear in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“Our study supports the premise that asthma is a multifactorial condition that can be triggered by a variety of underlying problems.” Interventions to improve clinically meaningful outcomes may need to be personalized to the type of asthmatic condition that patient has.

Patients who are obese and develop asthma as adults tend to exhale lower levels of nitric oxide (NO), a compound that relaxes blood vessels and is thought to play a similar role in airways.

The researchers collected blood samples from 155 adults, nearly half of whom had severe asthma and half of whom were obese. The team found that compared to early-onset asthma patients, late-onset obese asthma patients had lower plasma levels of the amino acid arginine and higher levels of an arginine metabolite called ADMA, which interferes with NO production.

“In healthy people, a balance is maintained between arginine and ADMA ensuring normal levels of airway NO,” Holguin says.

“But in obese, adult-onset asthma, the lower arginine and higher ADMA reduces airway NO levels. This finding is promising because it suggests that increasing arginine could restore NO levels and its positive effect on airways.” This might translate into patients having less wheezing and shortness of breath.

Arginine is readily available over the counter as a dietary supplement, but it is rapidly metabolized by the body and reduces its practicality as a treatment, he says. Another supplement called citrulline is known to enhance arginine production, and can be taken in high doses without ill effects.

“We will soon begin a small pilot study to see whether citrulline supplements can help alleviate symptoms in patients who fit this profile of late-onset asthma, obesity and decreased exhaled NO,” says Holguin.

Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as well as from the Cleveland Clinic, Wake Forest University, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, Washington University, Emory University, University of Virginia, Harvard University, and Imperial College London.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a range of developmental disorders that become apparent in childhood and persist in adulthood. Broadly referred to as just autism, ASDs represent the variety of symptoms and severity within the well-known condition. Still, they all have some common characteristics, including:

  • Problems with social interaction stemming from being unable to understand people’s feelings and emotions, often taking what they say literally
  • Impaired language and communication skills, often including late language development and leading to an inability to properly take part in conversations
  • Repetitive physical and mental routines which are developed early on and cause considerable upset if broken

Autistic people often find comfort in set patterns and routines

The NHS points out that there are three types of ASDs:

Autistic disorder, sometimes known as “classic autism“ – children with this disorder have significant problems with language, behaviour and social interaction, as well as learning difficulty

Asperger’s syndrome – children with Asperger’s have less severe symptoms and are often able to lead independent lives. They struggle most with social interaction and certain areas of language but often develop intense interests, which they excel in

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which is also known as “atypical autism“ – this diagnosis is used for those children who display some, but not all, the characteristics of Autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome. Their symptoms are usually milder.

[adsense]It is estimated that ASDs affect just over 1% of American children. Symptoms can begin to appear when babies are as young as 12 months, but often become obvious at around age 2. Diagnosing children as early as possible can lead to early intensive therapy which can sometimes lead to significant improvements in their life.

The exact cause of autism is unknown, but there are many theories that certain inherited genes could be the cause. Health authorities mostly claim that there is very little evidence to suggest a link between ASDs and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

There is no known cure for ASDs but a variety of treatments are available to help the sufferer lead an independent life and function within social settings. Some popular therapies include:

  • Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) which may help to improve social functioning and communication. This type of therapy involves seeing a clinical psychologist or trained therapist, who rewards good behaviour with praise and sets out a consistent and structured way of dealing with challenging or harmful behaviour
  • Conginitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also help combat negative thoughts and behaviour
  • Various special teaching programmes and occupational therapy to help the sufferer assimilate into his or her environment and not fall behind on school work
  • Drugs may sometimes be prescribed to deal with obsessive or hyperactive behaviour and severe depression

Click here to read about World Autism Awareness Day and Dan Aykroyd’s battle with Asperger’s.

Images: Wikipedia

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder – collectively named so because of the broad range of symptoms and severity associated with autism. Symptoms vary from so mild that the person can function as well as anyone else, to so severe that they are completely unable to be a part of normal society.

Asperger’s is one of the milder forms of autism and sufferers can often lead normal lives. In fact, many people with milder symptoms are never diagnosed and claim that Asperger’s is simply a variation of normal rather than a medical disorder.

The condition is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, studied and described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communcation skills, demonstrated limited empathy with other children and were physically clumsy. Many years later, the condition was officially recognised and diagnosed. It is primarily defined by a difficulty communicating with others and having problems with social situations. It is also often accompanied by repetitive patterns of behaviour and a intense interests.

As the BBC points out, Asperger’s sufferers’ difficulty with communication and social situations could manifest itself through the following symptoms:

  • People with Asperger's often display repetitive behaviour and intense interests

    Failing to notice or understand the body language of others such as facial expressions and tone of voice

  • Appearing insensitive to the feelings or views of the listener and continuing to talk, unaware of the listener’s interest
  • Appearing over-precise in what they say
  • Taking comments literally (for example, misunderstanding jokes, metaphors or colloquialisms)
  • Developing obsessions with objects, interests or routines which tend to interfere further with building social relationships (this is known as stereotyped or repetitive behaviour)

The exact cause of Asperger’s is still unknown but it is thought that, like autism in general, the answer may lie in genetics. There is no cure and treatment is focused on improving symptoms and helping the sufferer to function properly in society.

[adsense]An early diagnosis is important as most children’s symptoms improve in adulthood, although social and communication difficulties may persist. If left undiagnosed and untreated, Asperger’s can lead to isolation, confusion and depression.

Specialist education, behavioural and social skills training are often used to aide symptoms. Obsessional behaviour and depression can also be treated with drugs.

Click here to read about World Autism Awareness Day and Dan Aykroyd’s battle with Asperger’s.

Images: Wikipedia

World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. In 2007, the United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution, which declares that every April 2nd should be dedicated to bringing the world’s attention to a condition affecting tens of millions around the globe.

The National Autistic Society defines the condition as “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.“

Autism is a so-called spectrum condition, meaning it affects different people in different ways and varies in its severity. Some sufferers are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need lifelong specialist support. People with autism may experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours and often feel isolated and anxious as they struggle to understand the world around them.

Autistic people often find comfort in rhythmic exercises, such as stacking cans, in this picture

Many say they see the world as a mass of people, places and events which they struggle to make sense of, and which can cause them considerable distress. Understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family and social life are especially difficult to get to grips with. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, and some people with autism may wonder why they are ‘different’.

The exact causes of the condition are still unknown, although a recent study suggests genetics may be to blame, and there is no cure, meaning people suffering from autism have to learn to live with it.

It is estimated that autism affects just over 1% of American children and causes significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Symptoms can begin to appear when babies are as young as 12 months, but often become obvious at around age 2. Diagnosing children as early as possible can lead to early intensive therapy which can sometimes lead to significant improvements in their life.

[adsense]World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on the condition as a growing global health crisis. The activities of those who take part help to increase and develop world knowledge of the disability and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, World Autism Awareness Day celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals suffering from it are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, the campaign aims to give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help.

Click here to read more about Dan Aykroyd’s battle with Tourettes Syndrome and Aspergers.

Images: Wikimedia Commons and kubina on Flikr

Autism may have genetic connections

A recent study has revealed that autism may have certain genetic connections. According to www.sciencedaily.com, siblings of children who are diagnosed autistic are more likely to fall prey to the disease themselves. These findings have led to several investigations probing into the biological basis of the disease.

The latest study was conducted by a group of researchers at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Studies and revealed that together with two previously acknowledged genes which were found to be responsible for the disease, a new gene called molecule 2 or NCAM2 has now also been linked to autism. NCAM2 is generally found in the hippocampus region of the brain which is also associated with the disease.

Certain genes may determine whether or not a child is born with autism

As reported by www.pda.physorg.com, the study has provided further evidence that the disease holds its basis in the genes, which also affect the neural profile.

 “While mutations in the NCAM2 gene were found in a small percentage of the children that we studied, it is fascinating that this finding continues a consistent story — that many of the genes associated with autism are involved with formation or function of the neural synapse,” explained Dr. Ning Lei, lead researcher.

Image: Mark Cummins and ynse