Conference Coverage

Study links GLP-1R agonists, lower inflammatory biomarker levels


Patients with both type 2 diabetes and asthma who were on glucagonlike peptide receptor–1 (GLP-1R) agonists for glucose control had lower levels of a key biomarker of airway inflammation than similar patients on other types of glucose-control medications, according to results of a study to have been presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. The AAAAI canceled their annual meeting and provided abstracts and access to presenters for press coverage.

Dr. Dinah Foer of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

Dr. Dinah Foer of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

The findings from this study potentially replicated findings in humans that have been reported in preclinical trials.

“Our work showed that type 2 diabetics with asthma who were treated with GLP-1 receptor agonists had lower levels of periostin, and this provides really one of the first human data to show that these drugs may impact key inflammation pathways in the airway,” Dinah Foer, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, said in an interview. She described periostin as “a known critical inducer of airway mucous production and airway responsiveness.”

The study retrospectively evaluated serum samples from the Partners HealthCare Biobank of 161 adults with both asthma and type 2 diabetes, 42 of whom were on GLP-1R agonists and 119 of whom were taking non-GLP-1R agonist diabetes medications. The study used the Partners Healthcare EHR to identify eligible patients.

The study found that periostin levels were significantly decreased in GLP-1R agonist users: 19.1 ng/mL (standard deviation, +8.7) versus 27.4 ng/mL (SD, +14) in the non-GLP-1R agonist group (P = .001), Dr. Foer said. The other known mediators of asthma inflammatory pathways that were measured – interleukin-6, IL-8, sCD163, total IgE, and sST2 (soluble suppression of tumorigenesis–2) – showed no differences between the two groups, Dr. Foer said.

She said that this was the first human study to show similar results to preclinical models of asthma pathways. “What was interesting to us was that our findings were robust even when we controlled for covariates,” she added.

These findings lay the groundwork for further research into the potential therapeutic role GLP-1R agonists in asthma, Dr. Foer said. “This supports using periostin as a biomarker for novel therapeutic use of GLP-1R [agonists] in asthma,” she said. “At this point further study is needed to understand the clinical impact of GPL-1R [agonists] in asthma both for patients with type 2 diabetes and potentially in the future for patients who don’t have type 2 diabetes or metabolic disease.”

She added: “I don’t think we’re there yet; this is just one foot forward.”

The next step for researchers involves analyzing outcomes in asthmatics with type 2 diabetes on GLP-1R agonist therapy using a larger sample size as well as patients with asthma and metabolic disease, Dr. Foer said. The goal would be to identify corresponding biomarkers.

“There’s a terrific conversation in the field about the relationships between metabolism and asthma,” she said. “What our data contributes to that is, it suggests a role for metabolic pathways, specifically as it’s related GLP-1R [agonist] signaling pathways in regulating airway inflammation.”

Mark Moss, MD, associate professor of allergy & immunology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who was to serve as the moderator of the session, was positive about the GLP-1R agonist findings. He said in an interview: “This is promising research that provides a possible new target for the treatment of asthma.”

Dr. Foer disclosed that she has no relevant financial relationships.

SOURCE: Foer D et al. AAAAI Session 462, Abstract 784.

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