Asthmatics have distinct biochemical profile, new research finds


A new study has found that severe asthmatics have a distinct biochemical profile detectable in their urine, which is different compared to mild-to-moderate asthmatics and healthy individuals.

The research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, was led by Stacey Reinke, PhD of Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia and Craig Wheelock, PhD of the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

Investigators analyzed urine samples from more than 600 participants across 11 countries as part of the U-BIOPRED study, a Europe-wide initiative to identify and better understand different sub-types of severe asthma.

The research team discovered that a specific type of metabolite, called carnitines, decreased in severe asthmatics. According to the study, carnitines play an important role in cellular energy generation and immune responses. Further evaluation found carnitine metabolism was lower in severe asthmatics.

In an effort to find new effective therapies for asthmatics, researchers sought to examine the body’s chemical profile, or “metabolome,” which provides a snapshot of a person’s current physiological state and gives useful insight into disease processes.

“In this case, we were able to use the urinary metabolome of asthmatics to identify fundamental differences in energy metabolism that may represent a target for new interventions in asthma control,” Reinke said in a statement.

While Reinke said it can be difficult and invasive to investigate the lungs directly – fortunately they contain a lot of blood vessels.

“Therefore, any biochemical changes in the lungs can enter the blood stream, and then be excreted through the urine,” she said. “These are preliminary results, but we will continue to investigate carnitine metabolism to evaluate its potential as a new asthma treatment target.”

The authors hope these new findings will enable other researchers to work towards new, more effective therapies for asthmatics.