Despite international and national guidelines, poor asthma control remains an issue. Asthma exacerbations are costly to both the individual, and the healthcare provider. Improvements in our understanding of the therapeutic benefit of asthma therapies suggest that, in general, while long-acting bronchodilator therapy improves asthma symptoms, the anti-inflammatory activity of inhaled corticosteroids reduces acute asthma exacerbations. Studies have explored factors which could be predictive of exacerbations. A history of previous exacerbations, poor asthma control, poor inhaler technique, a history of lower respiratory tract infections, poor adherence to medication, the presence of allergic rhinitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, psychological dysfunction, smoking and obesity have all been implicated as having a predictive role in the future risk of asthma exacerbation. Here we review the current literature and discuss this in the context of primary care management of asthma.
Asthma; control; disease exacerbation; primary health care
In traditional systems of medicine, many plants have been documented to be useful for the treatment of various respiratory disorders including asthma. In the last two decades the use of medicinal plants and natural products has been increased dramatically all over the world. Current synthetic drugs used in pharmacotherapy of asthma are unable to act at all the stages and targets of asthma. However some herbal alternatives employed in asthma are proven to provide symptomatic relief and assist in the inhibition of disease progression also. The herbs have shown interesting results in various target specific biological activities such as bronchodilation, mast cell stabilization, anti-anaphylactic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory and inhibition of mediators such as leukotrienes, lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase, platelet activating, phosphodiesterase and cytokine, in the treatment of asthma. This paper is an attempt to classify these pharmacological and clinical findings based on their possible mechanism of action reported. It also signifies the need for development of polyherbal formulations containing various herbs acting at particular sites of the pathophysiological cascade of asthma for prophylaxis as well as for the treatment of asthma.
Asthma; Current therapy; Herbal therapy; Poly herbal formulations; Ayurvedic drugs; Medicinal plants
New therapeutic approaches are needed for severe asthmatics who are refractory to standard therapy with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting β2-agonists. Current treatment guidelines for severe asthmatics from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommend the addition of oral corticosteroids, which are associated with significant morbidity, and for those with allergic asthma, anti-IgE. Genetic and translational studies, as well as clinical trials, suggest that in a sub-group of patients the pathobiology of severe asthma is mediated by immune pathways driven by Th2-type CD4+ T cells which produce a characteristic repertoire of interleukins, including IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13. Therefore, biological modifiers of Th2-type interleukins, such as monoclonal antibodies, soluble receptors and receptor antagonists, represent a rational strategy for developing new treatment approaches, but will need to be targeted to selected individuals in whom the appropriate Th2 immune pathway is “active.” The benefits of immune modifier therapies targeting Th2-type cytokines, however, will need to be weighed against the toxicities associated with inhibition of key biological pathways, as well as the expense of future medications. Therefore, future clinical trials will need to clearly establish the efficacy and safety of biological modifiers of Th2 immune pathways before these approaches can enter routine clinical practice for the treatment of severe asthma.
Omalizumab is a humanized monoclonal anti-IgE antibody recently approved for the treatment of severe allergic asthma. This drug inhibits allergic responses by binding to serum IgE, thus preventing interaction with cellular IgE receptors. Omalizumab is also capable of downregulating the expression of high affinity IgE receptors on inflammatory cells, as well as the numbers of eosinophils in both blood and induced sputum. The clinical effects of omalizumab include improvements in respiratory symptoms and quality of life, paralleled by a reduction of asthma exacerbations, emergency room visits, and use of systemic corticosteroids and rescue bronchodilators. Omalizumab is relatively well-tolerated, and only rarely induces anaphylactic reactions. Therefore, this drug represents a valid option as add-on therapy for patients with severe persistent allergic asthma inadequately controlled by high doses of standard inhaled treatments.
omalizumab; anti-IgE; severe asthma
Asthma has been recognized in the medical literature for almost 2000 years. Modern pharmaco-therapy for asthma began with the commencement of the 20th century following the development of epinephrine and the demonstration of its effectiveness for acute symptoms of asthma. Progressive development of this class of bronchodilator medication has provided greater β2 specificity and longer duration of action. Corticosteroids were introduced about 50 years ago. As a systemic medication, they provided anti-inflammatory activity that continues to be essential for exacerbations of symptoms that are unresponsive to a bronchodilator. Corticosteroids were subsequently developed as inhaled agents for long-term maintenance therapy. The availability of corticosteroids with high topical effect has permitted the use of smaller doses with minimal systemic effect; therefore, the inhaled corticosteroids have become the most effective monotherapeutic agents for chronic asthma.
Both theophylline and long-acting β2 agonists (e.g., salmeterol) provide additive clinical effect to small doses of inhaled corticosteroids. This effect is greater than that achieved with larger doses of the inhaled steroid used alone. A new approach to managing allergic asthma is now available in the form of a monoclonal antibody directed against immunoglobulin E (IgE). This agent, omalizumab, binds to circulating IgE, thereby preventing IgE from binding to mast cells. This subsequently prevents the release of mediators for bronchospasm and inflammation. Under investigation are monoclonal antibodies to modify the effects of interleukins involved in the inflammatory process of asthma. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors that are more specific than theophylline and monoclonal antibodies that prevent the attachment of rhinovirus to respiratory mucosa are being studied. Since rhinoviruses are major causes of acute exacerbations of asthma, these and other measures to prevent or modify the common cold provide great potential for further improvement in the outcome of asthma.
International guidelines recommend the use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) as the preferred therapy, with leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) as an alternative, for the management of persistent asthma in children. Montelukast (MLK) is the first LTRA approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the use in young asthmatic children.
Therefore, we performed an analysis of studies that compared the efficacy of MLK versus ICSs. We considered eligible for the inclusion randomized, controlled trials on pediatric populations with Jadad score > 3, with at least 4 weeks of treatment with MLK compared with ICS.
Although it is important to recognize that ICSs use is currently the recommended first-line treatment for asthmatic children, MLK can have consistent benefits in controlling asthmatic symptoms and may be an alternative in children unable to use ICSs or suffering from poor growth. On the contrary, low pulmonary function and/or high allergic inflammatory markers require the corticosteroid use.
Childhood asthma; Inhaled corticosteroids; Leukotriene receptor antagonist; Montelukast
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in young children. About 40% of all preschool children regularly wheeze during common cold infections. The heterogeneity of wheezing phenotypes early in life and various anatomical and emotional factors unique to young children present significant challenges in the clinical management of this problem. Anti-inflammatory therapy, mainly consisting of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), is the cornerstone of asthma management. Since Leukotrienes (LTs) are chemical mediators of airway inflammation in asthma, the leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) are traditionally used as potent anti-inflammatory drugs in the long-term treatment of asthma in adults, adolescents, and school-age children. In particular, montelukast decreases airway inflammation, and has also a bronchoprotective effect. The main guidelines on asthma management have confirmed the clinical utility of LTRAs in children older than five years. In the present review we describe the most recent advances on the use of LTRAs in the treatment of preschool wheezing disorders. LTRAs are effective in young children with virus-induced wheeze and with multiple-trigger disease. Conflicting data do not allow to reach definitive conclusions on LTRAs efficacy in bronchiolitis or post-bronchiolitis wheeze, and in acute asthma. The excellent safety profile of montelukast and the possibility of oral administration, that entails better compliance from young children, represent the main strengths of its use in preschool children. Montelukast is a valid alternative to ICS especially in poorly compliant preschool children, or in subjects who show adverse effects related to long-term steroid therapy.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists; Asthma; Preschool children; Wheezing; Bronchiolitis
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airways disease in which respiratory viral infections frequently trigger exacerbations. Current treatment of asthma with combinations of inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta2 agonists improves asthma control and reduces exacerbations but what impact this might have on innate anti-viral immunity is unclear. We investigated the in vitro effects of asthma drugs on innate anti-viral immunity. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy and asthmatic donors were cultured for 24 hours with the Toll-like receptor 7 agonist, imiquimod, or rhinovirus 16 (RV16) in the presence of budesonide and/or formoterol. Production of proinflammatory cytokines and expression of anti-viral intracellular signalling molecules were measured by ELISA and RT-PCR respectively. In PBMC from healthy donors, budesonide alone inhibited IP-10 and IL-6 production induced by imiquimod in a concentration-dependent manner and the degree of inhibition was amplified when budesonide and formoterol were used in combination. Formoterol alone had little effect on these parameters, except at high concentrations (10−6 M) when IL-6 production increased. In RV16 stimulated PBMC, the combination of budesonide and formoterol inhibited IFNα and IP-10 production in asthmatic as well as healthy donors. Combination of budesonide and formoterol also inhibited RV16-stimulated expression of the type I IFN induced genes myxovirus protein A and 2′, 5′ oligoadenylate synthetise. Notably, RV16 stimulated lower levels of type Myxovirus A and oligoadenylate synthase in PBMC of asthmatics than control donors. These in vitro studies demonstrate that combinations of drugs commonly used in asthma therapy inhibit both early pro-inflammatory cytokines and key aspects of the type I IFN pathway. These findings suggest that budesonide and formoterol curtail excessive inflammation induced by rhinovirus infections in patients with asthma, but whether this inhibits viral clearance in vivo remains to be determined.
Asthma is a complex respiratory disease whose incidence has increased worldwide in the last decade. There is currently no cure for asthma. While bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory medications are effective medicines in some asthmatic patients, it is clear that an unmet therapeutic need persists for a subpopulation of individuals with severe asthma. This chronic lung disease is characterized by airflow limitation and lung inflammation and remodeling that includes increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. In addition to its contractile properties, the ASM also contributes to the inflammatory process by producing active mediators, modifying the extracellular matrix composition, and interacting with inflammatory cells. These undesirable functions make interventions aimed at reducing ASM abundance an attractive strategy for novel asthma therapies. There are at least three mechanisms that could limit the accumulation of smooth muscle – decreased cell proliferation, augmented cell apoptosis, and reduced cell migration into the smooth muscle layer. Inhibitors of the mevalonate pathway or statins hold promise for asthma because they exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-migratory, and anti-proliferative effects in pre-clinical and clinical studies, and they can target the SM. This review will discuss current knowledge of ASM biology and identify gaps in the field in order to stimulate future investigations of the cellular mechanisms controlling ASM overabundance in asthma. Targeting ASM has the potential to be an innovative venue of treatment for patients with asthma.
airway smooth muscle; asthma; contractile; cytokine; hyperplasia; hypertrophy; inflammation; mevalonate; progenitor cells; statins; TGF beta; translational
Bronchial asthma is recognized as a highly prevalent health problem in the developed and developing world with significant social and economic consequences. Increased asthma severity is not only associated with enhanced recurrent hospitalization and mortality but also with higher social costs. The pathogenetic background of allergic-atopic bronchial asthma is characterized by airway inflammation with infiltration of several cells (mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and T-helper (Th)2 lymphocytes). However, in atopic asthma the trigger factors for acute attacks and chronic worsening of bronchial inflammation are aeroallergens released by pollens, dermatophagoides, and pets, which are able to induce an immune response by interaction with IgE antibodies. Currently anti-inflammatory treatments are effective for most asthma patients, but there are asthmatic subjects whose disease is not completely controlled by inhaled or systemic corticosteroids and who account for a significant portion of the healthcare costs of asthma. A novel therapeutic approach to asthma and other allergic respiratory diseases involves interference in the action of IgE, and this antibody has been viewed as a target for novel immunological drug development in asthma. Omalizumab is a humanized recombinant monoclonal anti-IgE antibody approved for treatment of moderate to severe IgE-mediated (allergic) asthma. This non-anaphylactogenic anti-IgE antibody inhibits IgE functions, blocking free serum IgE and inhibiting their binding to cellular receptors. By reducing serum IgE levels and IgE receptor expression on inflammatory cells in the context of allergic cascade, omalizumab represents a new class of mast cells stabilizing drugs; it is a novel approach to the treatment of atopic asthma. Omalizumab therapy is well tolerated and significantly improves symptoms and disease control, reducing asthma exacerbations and the need to use high dosage of inhaled corticosteroids. Moreover, omalizumab improves quality of life of patients with severe persistent allergic asthma which is inadequately controlled by currently available asthma medications. In conclusion omalizumab may fulfil an important need in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
airway hyper-reactivity; asthma; allergic respiratory diseases; atopic respiratory diseases; anti-IgE therapy; hypersensitivity; monoclonal anti-IgE antibody; omalizumab
Paediatric asthma best practice not only includes prescribing the correct therapeutic mix based on consensus guidelines, but also reducing therapy once control has been achieved. Clinicians should also be aware that asthma in young children is a heterogeneous entity, and a beneficial response to bronchodilators and/or inhaled steroids is not inevitable. In general, preschool children and infants should not be prescribed inhaled corticosteroids above 200 µg beclometasone dipropionate equivalent twice a day, or regular oral steroids, or long acting ß2-adrenoceptor agonists. New therapies such as anti-IgE antibodies are on the horizon, but these are unlikely to replace the established drug combinations. More likely is that the delivery of established drugs will become more convenient (for example, once a day inhaled corticosteroids, or season dependent prophylactic therapy).
There is a need for new anti-asthmatic medications with fewer side effects. NDC-052, an extract of the medicinal herb Magnoliae flos, which has a long history of clinical use, was recently found to have anti-inflammatory effects. Herein, we evaluated the effects of NDC-052 as an add-on therapy in patients with mild to moderate asthma using inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
In a non-comparative, multi-center trial, 148 patients taking ICS received NDC-052 for eight weeks. We evaluated their forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), morning and evening peak expiratory flow rate (AM and PM PEFR), AM/PM asthma symptom scores, visual analogue symptom (VAS) scores, night-time wakening, frequency of short-acting β2-agonist usage, and adverse events.
After eight weeks, both AM and PM PEFRs were significantly improved. Asthma symptom scores, VAS scores, the frequency of nights without awakening, and the frequency of β2-agonist use were also reduced. Most of the adverse drug reactions were mild and resolved spontaneously.
The addition of NDC-052 to ICS had a beneficial effect on asthma control in patients with mild to moderate asthma, with good tolerability and fewer side effects. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of NDC-052 in patients with severe and/or refractory asthma.
Asthma; Drugs; Chinese herbal; Magnolin; Magnoliae
Allergen inhalation challenge has been useful for examining the mechanisms of allergen-induced airway inflammation and the associated physiological changes and for documenting the efficacy of drugs to treat asthma. Allergen inhalation by a sensitized subject results in acute bronchoconstriction, beginning within 15-30 min and lasting 1-3 hr, which can be followed by the development of a late asthmatic response. Individuals who develop both an early and late response after allergen have more marked increases in airway hyperresponsiveness, and greater increases in allergen-induced airway inflammation, particularly in airway eosinophils and basophils. All of the currently available and effective treatments for asthma modify some aspects of allergen-induced responses. These medications include short-acting and long-acting inhaled β2-agonists, inhaled corticosteroids, cromones, methylxanthines, leukotriene inhibitors, and anti-IgE monoclonal antibody. In addition, allergen inhalation challenge has become a useful method which can, in a very limited number of patients, provide key information on the therapeutic potential of new drugs being developed to treat asthma.
asthma; allergen; inflammation; drug development
A significant number of older asthmatics, more often than in previous ages, have poorly controlled asthma, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. On the other hand, current guidelines suggest that most asthmatics can obtain achievement and maintenance of disease control and do not include sections specific to the management of asthma in the elderly so that it is more evident the contrast between poor control of asthma in the elderly and the lack of specific guidance from guidelines on asthma management in older asthmatics. Inhaled corticosteroids are the cornerstone for older asthmatics, eventually with add-on inhaled long-acting beta-agonists; inhaled short acting beta-agonists can be used as rescue medications. Triggers exacerbating asthma are similar for all ages, but inhaled viruses and drug interactions have greater clinical significance in the elderly. Older asthmatics have an increased likelihood of comorbidities and polypharmacy, with possible worsening of asthma control and reduced treatment adherence. Physicians and older asthmatics probably either do not perceive or accept a poor asthma control. We conclude that specific instruments addressed to evaluate asthma control in the elderly with concomitant comorbidities and measurements for improving self-management and adherence could assure better disease control in older asthmatics.
asthma; beta2-agonists; inhaled corticosteroids; asthma control; elderly
Purpose of review
Patient response to the asthma drug classes, bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids and leukotriene modifiers, are characterized by a large degree of heterogeneity, which is attributable in part to genetic variation. Herein, we review and update the pharmacogenetics and pharmaogenomics of common asthma drugs.
Early studies suggest that bronchodilator reversibility and asthma worsening in patients on continuous short-acting and long-acting β-agonists are related to the Gly16Arg genotype for the ADRB2. More recent studies including genome-wide association studies implicate variants in other genes contribute to bronchodilator response heterogeneity and fail to replicate asthma worsening associated with continuous β-agonist use. Genetic determinants of the safety of long-acting β-agonist require further study. Variants in CRHR1, TBX21, and FCER2 contribute to variability in response for lung function, airways responsiveness, and exacerbations in patients taking inhaled corticosteroids. Variants in ALOX5, LTA4H, LTC4S, ABCC1, CYSLTR2, and SLCO2B1 contribute to variability in response to leukotriene modifiers.
Identification of novel variants that contribute to response heterogeneity supports future studies of single nucleotide polymorphism discovery and include gene expression and genome-wide association studies. Statistical models that predict the genomics of response to asthma drugs will complement single nucleotide polymorphism discovery in moving toward personalized medicine.
asthma; genes; personalized medicine; polymorphisms; response heterogeneity
The aim of this study was to evaluate asthma control after the introduction of a leukotriene modifier (Montelukast), in addition to the current controller asthma therapies, in patients with inadequately controlled mild-to-moderate persistent asthma. Asthma control and patient perception were assessed prior to, and 4 weeks after, the introduction of Montelukast, and the pre-introduction and post-introduction results were compared.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional, observational study collected information on 1,490 eligible adult asthmatic patients in Saudi Arabia. The eligibility criteria included patients aged 15 years or more with symptomatic mild-to-moderate persistent asthma despite treatment with inhaled corticosteroids with or without long-acting beta agonist; also, the patient should attend the initial visit and follow-up visits after at least 4 weeks.
Of the 1,490 eligible patients, 79.5% received inhaled corticosteroids alone, and the remaining 20.5% received combination of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilator. Despite the treatment with daily controller medications, asthma symptoms persisted in more than two-thirds of the study population. Upon adding Montelukast, more than 80% of patients reported improvement in symptoms, which was consistent in all patients irrespective of corticosteroid type or dose (stratum) or the addition of long-acting β2-agonist. At the follow-up visit, 92.2% of patients reported that they felt better on Montelukast.
Leukotriene modifier Montelukast has significant additive benefits in the management of patients who suffer from mild-to-moderate asthma and who are inadequately controlled on inhaled corticosteroids therapy with or without long-acting bronchodilator.
Montelukast (Singulair), an antiasthma drug belonging to the leukotriene antagonist family, has two indications: as adjunctive treatment for mild-to-moderate chronic asthma when regular inhaled steroid therapy and short-acting inhaled beta2 stimulants "on demand" are inadequate; and in prevention of effort-induced asthma. The clinical file on montelukast contains no methodologically acceptable comparisons with reference treatments. Several placebo-controlled trials have shown the efficacy of montelukast, with improvement in clinical scores and respiratory function tests in those with chronic asthma and prevention of effort-induced asthma. For chronic asthma, montelukast has not been compared with oral or inhaled long-acting beta2 stimulants or with sustained-release theophylline in patients inadequately controlled by steroid therapy. For effort-induced asthma, only two trials have compared montelukast with salmeterol.On the basis of preliminary results, the authors of both studies concluded that montelukast was superior. Clinical trials showed no clear difference in the frequency of side effects in patients taking montelukast and patients taking placebo. Montelukast, however, might be associated with Churg-Strauss syndrome in rare cases. Montelukast is expensive.
A recent admixture mapping analysis identified interleukin 6 (IL6) and IL6 receptor (IL6R) as candidate genes for inflammatory diseases. In the airways during allergic inflammation, IL6 signaling controls the production of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors. In addition, albuterol, a commonly prescribed asthma therapy, has been shown to influence IL6 gene expression. Therefore, we reasoned that interactions between the IL6 and IL6R genes might be associated with bronchodilator drug responsiveness to albuterol in asthmatic patients.
Four functional IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a nonsynonymous IL6R SNP were genotyped in 700 Mexican and Puerto Rican asthma families and in 443 African-American asthma cases and controls. Both family-based association tests and linear regression models were used to assess the association between individual SNPs and haplotypes with bronchodilator response. Gene–gene interactions were tested by using multiple linear regression analyses.
No single SNP was consistently associated with drug response in all the three populations. However, on the gene level, we found a consistent IL6 and IL6R pharmacogenetic interaction in the three populations. This pharmacogenetic gene–gene interaction was contextual and dependent upon ancestry (racial background). This interaction resulted in higher drug response to albuterol in Latinos, but lower drug response in African-Americans. Herein, we show that there is an effect modification by ancestry on bronchodilator responsiveness to albuterol.
Genetic variants in the IL6 and IL6R genes act synergistically to modify the bronchodilator drug responsiveness in asthma and this pharmacogenetic interaction is modified by the genetic ancestry.
asthma genetics; African-Americans; ancestry; effect modification; gene–gene interaction; IL6; IL6 receptor; latinos
Monitoring noninvasive biomarkers of inflammation is an important adjunct in asthma therapy.
The goal of the present study was to identify airway and alveolar site(s) of inflammation using exhaled nitric oxide (NO) as a marker in asthmatic patients, and to evaluate the NO response to maintenance fluticasone 250 μg/salmeterol 50 μg (F/S) and add-on montelukast 10 mg (M).
Thirty (24 women) nonsmoking, mild to moderate asthmatic patients were studied, mean age (± SD) 43±9 years, treated with F/S for more than one year. All were clinically stable for longer than eight weeks and had not taken oral corticosteroids and/or leukotriene antagonists for eight weeks before the present study. Spirometry, Juniper asthma symptom score, fractional exhaled NO (FENO) 100 mL/s, bronchial NO and alveolar NO concentration (CANO) were measured in a single-blind, nonrandomized crossover study.
Visit 1: baseline F/S; visit 2: after four weeks of F/S plus M; visit 3: after four weeks of S plus M; and visit 4: after four weeks of S only. Values in asthmatic patients were also compared with 34 nonsmoking age-matched healthy controls with normal lung function.
After 180 μg aerosolized metered dose inhaler albuterol, the forced expiratory volume in 1 s at baseline was 2.6±0.8 L (86%±16% of the predicted value) and the forced expiratory volume in 1 s over the forced vital capacity was 77%±9% (mean ± SD), and was similar at visits 2 to 4. Juniper scores were mildly abnormal at visits 1 to 3, but significantly worse (P=0.03) at visit 4 versus visits 1 to 3. FENO values at visits 1 to 3 were similar but significantly increased (P=0.007) at visit 4. Bronchial NO was higher (P=0.03) at visit 4, versus visits 1 and 2, and was no different at visit 3. Compared with the healthy subjects, FENO and bronchial NO values were abnormal (greater than the normal mean plus 2 SD) in 33% of asthmatic patients at visits 1 to 3. CANO was similar for visits 1 to 4. CANO was abnormal (greater than the normal mean + 2 SD) in 20% of asthmatic patients.
In clinically stable asthmatic patients, despite controller treatment including moderate-dose inhaled corticosteroids and add-on M, 33% of mild to moderate asthmatic patients have ongoing nonsuppressed bronchial sites of increased NO production, compared with healthy control subjects. These controllers have no effect on CANO, which was abnormal in 20% of the asthmatic patients studied. The addition of add-on M to baseline moderate-dose inhaled corticosteroid did not further reduce total exhaled, bronchial and/or alveolar NO production.
Asthma; Exhaled nitric oxide; Montelukast; Salmeterol/fluticasone
Major classes of medication in asthma management include bronchodilating β2-agonists, anti-inflammatory inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers and theophyllines. However, all asthmatics do not respond to the same extent to a given medication. Available data suggest that a substantial range of individual variability, as much as 70%, may be due to genetic characteristics of each patient. Pharmacogenomics offers the potential to optimize medications for individual asthmatics by using genetic information to improve efficacy or avoid adverse effects. The best-studied case of the potential contribution of pharmacogenomics to treatment response in asthma comes from studies on human β2 adrenergic receptors. In addition, genetic variation in β2-adrenergic receptor (Arg16Gly) may predict response to anticholinergics for the treatment of asthma. In case of inhaled corticosteroids, a recent investigation using a traditional SNP-based approach identified a gene for corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 1 as a potential marker of response. Another major pathway that has been investigated is the pathway underlying response to cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonist. It is likely that in the near future, pharmacogenomic approaches based on individual genetic information will be introduced into an asthma treatment guideline and this guideline will allow us to identify those who have the best chance to respond to a specific medication.
Asthma; pharmacogenomics; treatment response
OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of leukotriene-receptor antagonists (LTRAs) in management of asthma. QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: Most data were derived from randomized, double-blind, controlled trials. MAIN MESSAGE: Leukotrienes appear to have an important role in the pathophysiology of asthma, including airway inflammation. Leukotriene-receptor antagonists are effective in improving asthma control end points, such as allergen, ASA, and exercise challenge, in clinical models of asthma. In chronic asthma, LTRA administration reduces asthma symptoms and rescue beta 2-agonist use, changes that are paralleled by improvements in lung function. Both zafirlukast and montelukast decrease circulating levels of eosinophils and could have other useful anti-inflammatory properties. Administration of LTRAs allows doses of inhaled corticosteroids to be reduced. Currently available LTRAs are free of serious side effects and are available as oral formulations. CONCLUSIONS: Leukotriene-receptor antagonists belong to a new class of asthma medication. While inhaled corticosteroids remain first-line therapy for managing chronic asthma, LTRAs should be considered for patients with ASA-sensitive asthma; as adjunct therapy when low to moderate doses of inhaled steroid alone provide incomplete control; or as adjunct therapy to allow reduction in doses of inhaled corticosteroids.
As the overall prevalence of asthma has escalated in the past decades, so has the population of patients with severe asthma. This condition is often difficult to manage due to the relative limitation of effective therapeutic options for the physician and the social and economic burden of the disease on the patient. Management should include an evaluation and elimination of modifiable risk factors such as smoking, allergen exposure, obesity and non-adherence, as well as therapy for co-morbidities like gastro-esophageal reflux disease and obstructive sleep apnea. Current treatment options include conventional agents such as inhalational corticosteroids, long acting β2 agonists, leukotriene antagonists, and oral corticosteroids. Less conventional treatment options include immunotherapy with methotrexate, cyclosporine and tacrolimus, biological drugs like monoclonal antibodies, tumor necrosis factor-α blockers and oligonucleotides, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, antimicrobials and bronchial thermoplasty.
severe asthma; treatment
Nonadherence with anti-inflammatory treatment is a frequent cause of continued symptoms in asthmatic patients. Clinical assessments including patient-reported medication administration may provide the asthma specialist incomplete information regarding actual adherence to anti-inflammatory medications. The objective of this report was to describe the first case where adherence to inhaled asthma therapy was assessed by direct analysis of glucocorticoids in induced sputum. The patient's blood, urine, and sputum were tested for synthetic corticosteroids using mass spectrometry. To evaluate a clinical suspicion of poor adherence, sputum, urine, and blood were used to assess for current compliance to medication use. We report a case where asthma specialists attributed poorly controlled asthma to nonadherence to medical therapy. After modification of the medical regimen, adherence with oral and inhaled steroids was assessed—via examination of the urine, blood, and sputum. Direct analysis of glucocorticoids in sputum is feasible and in theory could provide a novel tool to document current medication adherence. Concomitant assessment of glucocorticoids and eosinophils in the same induced sputum specimen could provide insight into possible steroid resistance in select referral patients with difficult asthma.
Adherence; asthma; budesonide; drug monitoring; fluticasone propionate; methylprednisolone; prednisolone; prednisone; steroids; steroid dependent
Asthma is a complex genetic disease with multiple genetic and environmental determinants contributing to the observed variability in response to common anti-asthma therapies. Asthma pharmacogenetic research has focused on multiple candidate genes including the β2-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRβ2) and its effect on individual responses to beta agonist therapy. At present, knowledge about the effects of ADRβ2 variation on therapeutic responses is evolving and should not alter current Asthma Guideline approaches consisting of the use of short acting beta agonists for as-needed symptom based therapy and the use of a regular long-acting beta agonist in combination with inhaled corticosteroid therapy for optimal control of asthma symptoms in those asthmatics who are not controlled on inhaled corticosteroid alone. This approach is based upon studies showing a consistent pharmacogenetic response to regular use of short acting beta agonists (SABA) and less consistent findings in studies evaluating long acting beta agonist (LABA). While emerging pharmacogenetic studies are provocative and should lead to functional approaches, conflicting data with responses to LABA therapy may be caused by factors that include small sample sizes of study populations and differences in experimental design that may limit the conclusions that may be drawn from these clinical trials at the present time.
Asthma represents a profound worldwide public health problem. The most effective anti-asthmatic drugs currently available include inhaled β2-agonists and glucocorticoids and control asthma in about 90-95% of patients. The current asthma therapies are not cures and symptoms return soon after treatment is stopped even after long term therapy. Although glucocorticoids are highly effective in controlling the inflammatory process in asthma, they appear to have little effect on the lower airway remodelling processes that appear to play a role in the pathophysiology of asthma at currently prescribed doses. The development of novel drugs may allow resolution of these changes. In addition, severe glucocorticoid-dependent and resistant asthma presents a great clinical burden and reducing the side-effects of glucocorticoids using novel steroid-sparing agents is needed. Furthermore, the mechanisms involved in the persistence of inflammation are poorly understood and the reasons why some patients have severe life threatening asthma and others have very mild disease are still unknown. Drug development for asthma has been directed at improving currently available drugs and findings new compounds that usually target the Th2-driven airway inflammatory response. Considering the apparently central role of T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of asthma, drugs targeting disease-inducing Th2 cells are promising therapeutic strategies. However, although animal models of asthma suggest that this is feasible, the translation of these types of studies for the treatment of human asthma remains poor due to the limitations of the models currently used. The myriad of new compounds that are in development directed to modulate Th2 cells recruitment and/or activation will clarify in the near future the relative importance of these cells and their mediators in the complex interactions with the other pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory cells and mediators responsible of the different asthmatic phenotypes. Some of these new Th2-oriented strategies may in the future not only control symptoms and modify the natural course of asthma, but also potentially prevent or cure the disease.