Cellular and systemic energy metabolic dysregulation in asthma development—a hypothesis-generating approach

Sergejs Berdnikovs*, Dawn C. Newcomb, Tebeb Gebretsadik, Brittney M. Snyder, Derek A. Wiggins, Kadijah S. Poleon, Tina V. Hartert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The roles of systemic and airway-specific epithelial energy metabolism in altering the developmental programming of airway epithelial cells (AECs) in early life are poorly understood. Objective: Our aim was to assess carbohydrate metabolism in developing AECs among children with and without wheeze and test the association of infant plasma energy biomarkers with subsequent recurrent wheeze and asthma outcomes. Methods: We measured cellular carbohydrate metabolism in live nasal AECs collected at age 2 years from 15 male subjects with and without a history of wheeze and performed a principal component analysis to visually assess clustering of data on AEC metabolism of glycolitic metabolites and simple sugars. Among 237 children with available year 1 plasma samples, we tested the associations of year 1 plasma energy biomarkers and recurrent wheeze and asthma by using generalized estimating equations and logistic regression. Results: Children with a history of wheeze had lower utilization of glucose in their nasal AECs than did children with no wheeze. Systemically, a higher plasma glucose concentration at year 1 (within the normal range) was associated with decreased odds of asthma at age 5 years (adjusted odds ratio = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.35-0.90). Insulin concentration, glucose-to-insulin ratio, C-peptide concentration, and leptin concentration at year 1 were associated with recurrent wheeze from age 2 years to age 5 years. Conclusion: These results suggest that there is significant energy metabolism dysregulation in early life, which likely affects AEC development. These pertubations of epithelial cell metabolism in infancy may have lasting effects on lung development that could render the airway more susceptible to allergic sensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1802-1806.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Glucose
  • airway epithelial cells
  • asthma
  • childhood
  • development
  • energy metabolism
  • insulin
  • wheezing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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