Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 627384, 8 pages
Review Article

Insulin and the Lung: Connecting Asthma and Metabolic Syndrome

1Center of Excellence for Translational Research in Asthma & Lung Disease, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi 110007, India
2Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
3Department of Physiology & Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
4Research Center for Prevention and Health, Glostrup University Hospital, Glostrup 2600, Denmark

Received 23 March 2013; Revised 8 August 2013; Accepted 21 August 2013

Academic Editor: Balaram Ghosh

Copyright © 2013 Suchita Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and asthma are all rapidly increasing globally. Substantial emerging evidence suggests that these three conditions are epidemiologically and mechanistically linked. Since the link between obesity and asthma appears to extend beyond mechanical pulmonary disadvantage, molecular understanding is necessary. Insulin resistance is a strong, independent risk factor for asthma development, but it is unknown whether a direct effect of insulin on the lung is involved. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding the effect of insulin on cellular components of the lung and highlights the molecular consequences of insulin-related metabolic signaling cascades that could adversely affect lung structure and function. Examples include airway smooth muscle proliferation and contractility and regulatory signaling networks that are associated with asthma. These aspects of insulin signaling provide mechanistic insight into the clinical evidence for the links between obesity, metabolic syndrome, and airway diseases, setting the stage for novel therapeutic avenues targeting these conditions.