Fat accumulates inside lungs of obese people: Study

Canberra: Researchers have found that fatty tissues accumulate in the airway walls. It is especially true for overweight or obese people.

Researchers have published this study in the European Respiratory Journal. It suggested that the fatty tissue alters the structure of people’s airways. Moreover, this could be one reason behind the increased risk of asthma.

“Our research team studies the structure of the airways within our lungs. The team also looks at how these are altered in people with respiratory disease,” said John Elliot. He is from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Australia and also the author of this study.

“We spotted fatty tissue that had built up in the airway walls after looking at the samples of lungs. We wanted to see if this accumulation was correlated with body weight,” Elliot said.

The researchers examined post-mortem samples of the lungs that had been donated for the research and stored in the Airway Tissue Biobank.

They studied samples from 52 people, including 15 who had no asthma. While 21 had the disease but died of other causes and 16 who died of asthma.

They identified and quantified any fatty tissue present by using dyes to help visualize the structures of 1373 airways under a microscope. Later they compared this data with each person’s body mass index (BMI).

The study showed that fatty tissue accumulates in the walls of the airways. The analysis revealed that the amount of fat present increases in line with increasing BMI.

“We’ve found that excess fat accumulates in the airway walls. There it takes up space and seems to increase inflammation within the lungs,” said the study’s co-author Peter Noble.

“We think this is causing a thickening of the airways that limits the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Hence that could at least partly explain an increase in asthma symptoms,” Noble said.

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