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1.  Pediatric severe asthma is characterized by eosinophilia and remodeling without TH2 cytokines 
Background
The pathology of pediatric severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) is little understood.
Objectives
We hypothesized that STRA in children is characterized by airway eosinophilia and mast cell inflammation and is driven by the TH2 cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13.
Methods
Sixty-nine children (mean age, 11.8 years; interquartile range, 5.6-17.3 years; patients with STRA, n = 53; control subjects, n = 16) underwent fiberoptic bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and endobronchial biopsy. Airway inflammation, remodeling, and BAL fluid and biopsy specimen TH2 cytokines were quantified. Children with STRA also underwent symptom assessment (Asthma Control Test), spirometry, exhaled nitric oxide and induced sputum evaluation.
Results
Children with STRA had significantly increased BAL fluid and biopsy specimen eosinophil counts compared with those found in control subjects (BAL fluid, P < .001; biopsy specimen, P < .01); within the STRA group, there was marked between-patient variability in eosinophilia. Submucosal mast cell, neutrophil, and lymphocyte counts were similar in both groups. Reticular basement membrane thickness and airway smooth muscle were increased in patients with STRA compared with those found in control subjects (P < .0001 and P < .001, respectively). There was no increase in BAL fluid IL-4, IL-5, or IL-13 levels in patients with STRA compared with control subjects, and these cytokines were rarely detected in induced sputum. Biopsy IL-5+ and IL-13+ cell counts were also not higher in patients with STRA compared with those seen in control subjects. The subgroup (n = 15) of children with STRA with detectable BAL fluid TH2 cytokines had significantly lower lung function than those with undetectable BAL fluid TH2 cytokines.
Conclusions
STRA in children was characterized by remodeling and variable airway eosinophil counts. However, unlike in adults, there was no neutrophilia, and despite the wide range in eosinophil counts, the TH2 mediators that are thought to drive allergic asthma were mostly absent.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.01.059
PMCID: PMC3381727  PMID: 22385633
Pediatric asthma; eosinophilia; remodeling; severe therapy-resistant asthma; mediators
2.  Interleukin-33 promotes airway remodelling in paediatric severe steroid resistant asthma 
Background
Th2 cytokines are not responsible for the on-going symptoms and pathology in children with severe therapy resistant asthma (STRA). Interleukin (IL)-33 induces airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), but its role in airway remodelling and steroid resistance is unknown.
Objective
To investigate the relationship between IL-33 and airway remodelling in paediatric STRA.
Methods
IL-33 was quantified in neonatal mice given inhaled house dust mite (HDM), and the effect of blocking IL-13 on remodelling and IL-33 was assessed. HDM induced allergic airways disease (AAD) in neonatal ST2−/− mice lacking the IL-33 receptor was assessed, together with collagen production following IL-33 administration. Impact of steroid therapy on IL-33 levels in neonatal AAD was explored. IL-33 expression was quantified in endobronchial biopsies from children with STRA and related to remodelling, and collagen production by paediatric airway fibroblasts stimulated with IL-33 and budesonide quantified.
Results
Blocking IL-13 after AAD was established in neonatal mice did not reduce remodelling or IL-33 levels; AHR was only partially reduced. IL-33 promoted collagen synthesis both from paediatric asthmatic fibroblasts, and following intra-nasal administration in mice. Increased cellular expression of IL-33, but not IL-13, was associated with increased reticular basement membrane thickness in endobronchial biopsies from children with STRA, whilst remodelling was absent in HDM exposed ST2−/− mice. IL-33 was maintained whilst IL-13 was abrogated by steroid treatment in neonatal HDM exposed mice, and in endobronchial biopsies from children with STRA.
Conclusion
IL-33 is a relatively steroid resistant mediator that promotes airway remodelling in STRA, and is an important therapeutic target.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.04.012
PMCID: PMC4218948  PMID: 23759184
Asthma; paediatric; airway remodelling; steroid resistance; IL-33; therapy
3.  Vitamin D deficiency causes airway hyperresponsiveness, increases airway smooth muscle mass, and reduces TGF‐β expression in the lungs of female BALB/c mice 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(3):e00276.
Abstract
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with disease severity in asthma. We tested whether there is a causal association between vitamin D deficiency, airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass, and the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). A physiologically relevant mouse model of vitamin D deficiency was developed by raising BALB/c mice on vitamin D‐deficient or ‐replete diets. AHR was assessed by measuring lung function responses to increasing doses of inhaled methacholine. Five‐micron sections from formalin‐fixed lungs were used for ASM measurement and assessment of lung structure using stereological methods. Transforming growth factor (TGF)‐β levels were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Lungs were dissected from embryonic day (E) 17.5 vitamin D‐deficient and ‐replete fetal mice for quantification of ASM density and relative gene expression of TGF‐β signaling pathway molecules. Eight‐week‐old adult vitamin D‐deficient female mice had significantly increased airway resistance and ASM in the large airways compared with controls. Vitamin D‐deficient female mice had a smaller lung volume, volume of parenchyma, and alveolar septa. Both vitamin D‐deficient male and female mice had reduced TGF‐β levels in BALF. Vitamin D deficiency did not have an effect on ASM density in E17.5 mice, however, expression of TGF‐β1 and TGF‐β receptor I was downregulated in vitamin D‐deficient female fetal mice. Decreased expression of TGF‐β1 and TGF‐β receptor I during early lung development in vitamin D‐deficient mice may contribute to airway remodeling and AHR in vitamin D‐deficient adult female mice. This study provides a link between vitamin D deficiency and respiratory symptoms in chronic lung disease.
Vitamin D deficiency caused airway hyperresponsiveness and increased airway smooth muscle mass in the airways of adult female mice. Vitamin D deficiency also reduced transforming growth factor (TGF)‐β1 protein levels in both male and female mice, as well as reduced gene expression of TGF‐β1 and TGF‐β receptor I in female E17.5 fetal pups. These observations may provide a link between vitamin D deficiency and respiratory symptoms in chronic lung disease.
doi:10.1002/phy2.276
PMCID: PMC4002254  PMID: 24760528
Airway hyperresponsiveness; airway smooth muscle; lung structure; mouse model; vitamin D
4.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
Conclusions
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001753.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001753
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
5.  Effects of BMI, Fat Mass, and Lean Mass on Asthma in Childhood: A Mendelian Randomization Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001669.
In this study, Granell and colleagues used Mendelian randomization to investigate causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ years in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and found that higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Observational studies have reported associations between body mass index (BMI) and asthma, but confounding and reverse causality remain plausible explanations. We aim to investigate evidence for a causal effect of BMI on asthma using a Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used Mendelian randomization to investigate causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ y in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A weighted allele score based on 32 independent BMI-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was derived from external data, and associations with BMI, fat mass, lean mass, and asthma were estimated. We derived instrumental variable (IV) estimates of causal risk ratios (RRs). 4,835 children had available data on BMI-associated SNPs, asthma, and BMI. The weighted allele score was strongly associated with BMI, fat mass, and lean mass (all p-values<0.001) and with childhood asthma (RR 2.56, 95% CI 1.38–4.76 per unit score, p = 0.003). The estimated causal RR for the effect of BMI on asthma was 1.55 (95% CI 1.16–2.07) per kg/m2, p = 0.003. This effect appeared stronger for non-atopic (1.90, 95% CI 1.19–3.03) than for atopic asthma (1.37, 95% CI 0.89–2.11) though there was little evidence of heterogeneity (p = 0.31). The estimated causal RRs for the effects of fat mass and lean mass on asthma were 1.41 (95% CI 1.11–1.79) per 0.5 kg and 2.25 (95% CI 1.23–4.11) per kg, respectively. The possibility of genetic pleiotropy could not be discounted completely; however, additional IV analyses using FTO variant rs1558902 and the other BMI-related SNPs separately provided similar causal effects with wider confidence intervals. Loss of follow-up was unlikely to bias the estimated effects.
Conclusions
Higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood. Higher BMI may have contributed to the increase in asthma risk toward the end of the 20th century.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The global burden of asthma, a chronic (long-term) condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs), has been rising steadily over the past few decades. It is estimated that, nowadays, 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma. Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke, becoming narrower so that less air can enter the lungs. Exercise, cold air, and infections can also trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
We cannot halt the ongoing rise in global asthma rates without understanding the causes of asthma. Some experts think obesity may be one cause of asthma. Obesity, like asthma, is increasingly common, and observational studies (investigations that ask whether individuals exposed to a suspected risk factor for a condition develop that condition more often than unexposed individuals) in children have reported that body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) is positively associated with asthma. Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes asthma because of “confounding.” Overweight children with asthma may share another unknown characteristic (confounder) that actually causes both obesity and asthma. Moreover, children with asthma may be less active than unaffected children, so they become overweight (reverse causality). Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to assess whether BMI has a causal effect on asthma. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the effect of a modifiable risk factor and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. So, if a higher BMI leads to asthma, genetic variants associated with increased BMI should be associated with an increased risk of asthma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers investigated causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ years in 4,835 children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC, a long-term health project that started in 1991). They calculated an allele score for each child based on 32 BMI-related genetic variants, and estimated associations between this score and BMI, fat mass and lean mass (both measured using a special type of X-ray scanner; in children BMI is not a good indicator of “fatness”), and asthma. They report that the allele score was strongly associated with BMI, fat mass, and lean mass, and with childhood asthma. The estimated causal relative risk (risk ratio) for the effect of BMI on asthma was 1.55 per kg/m2. That is, the relative risk of asthma increased by 55% for every extra unit of BMI. The estimated causal relative risks for the effects of fat mass and lean mass on asthma were 1.41 per 0.5 kg and 2.25 per kg, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood and that global increases in BMI toward the end of the 20th century may have contributed to the global increase in asthma that occurred at the same time. It is possible that the observed association between BMI and asthma reported in this study is underpinned by “genetic pleiotropy” (a potential limitation of all Mendelian randomization analyses). That is, some of the genetic variants included in the BMI allele score could conceivably also increase the risk of asthma. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that public health interventions designed to reduce obesity may also help to limit the global rise in asthma.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001669.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma and on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information on asthma and on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obesity (including real stories)
The Global Asthma Report 2011 is available
The Global Initiative for Asthma released its updated Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention on World Asthma Day 2014
Information about the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is available
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on obesity in children, on asthma, and on asthma in children (in English and Spanish
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001669
PMCID: PMC4077660  PMID: 24983943
6.  Steroid requirements and immune associations with vitamin D are stronger in children than adults with asthma 
Background
the effects of serum vitamin D status on atopy, steroid requirement and functional responsiveness to corticosteroids in children vs. adults with asthma have not been studied systematically.
Objective
to explore age-specific effects of vitamin D in asthma.
Methods
serum vitamin D levels were examined in a prospective study of adults and children (102 normal controls and 103 asthmatics). Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were cultured for 3h +/−100nM dexamethasone (DEX) and the expression of corticosteroid-regulated genes was detected by real time PCR. Serum IgE levels were measured; information about asthmatics’ steroid requirement was collected.
Results
47.6% of asthmatics and 56.8% normal control subjects had deficient serum vitamin D levels (<20ng/ml) with mean ± SD of 20.7±9.8ng/ml and 19.2±7.7ng/ml, respectively. In multivariate regression models, a significant positive correlation between serum vitamin D and the expression of vitamin D regulated targets - cyp24a by PBMC (p=0.0084, pediatric asthma group only) and serum LL-37 levels (p=0.0006, pediatric; but p=0.0067 in adult asthma groups) was found. An inverse association between vitamin D and serum IgE levels was observed in the pediatric (p=0.006) asthma group. Serum vitamin D (p=0.05) as well as PBMC cyp24a expression (p=0.0312) demonstrated significant inverse relationship with daily ICS dose in the pediatric asthma group only. Cyp24a expression in PBMC correlated positively with in vitro suppression of TNFα (p=0.05) and IL-13 (p=0.0094) in PBMC by DEX only in the pediatric asthma group.
Conclusions
this study demonstrated significant associations between serum vitamin D status and steroid requirement and in vitro responsiveness to corticosteroids in the pediatric but not the adult asthma group. Vitamin D was also related to IgE levels in children but not in adults.
Clinical Implication
The results of this study suggest that vitamin D supplementation in children may enhance corticosteroid responses, control atopy and could thereby improve asthma control.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.01.044
PMCID: PMC3340468  PMID: 22330698
vitamin D; asthma; corticosteroids
7.  Airway smooth muscle proliferation and survival is not modulated by mast cells 
Clinical and Experimental Allergy  2010;40(2):279-288.
Background
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) hyperplasia and mast cell localization within the ASM bundle are important features of asthma. The cause of this increased ASM mass is uncertain and whether it is a consequence of ASM–mast cell interactions is unknown.
Objective
We sought to investigate ASM proliferation and survival in asthma and the effects of co-culture with mast cells.
Methods
Primary ASM cultures were derived from 11 subjects with asthma and 12 non-asthmatic controls. ASM cells were cultured for up to 10 days in the presence or absence of serum either alone or in co-culture with the human mast cell line-1, unstimulated human lung mast cells (HLMC) or IgE/anti-IgE-activated HLMC. Proliferation was assessed by cell counts, CFSE assay and thymidine incorporation. Apoptosis and necrosis were analysed by Annexin V/propidium iodide staining using flow cytometry and by assessment of nuclear morphology using immunofluorescence. Mast cell activation was confirmed by the measurement of histamine release.
Results
Using a number of techniques, we found that ASM proliferation and survival was not significantly different between cells derived from subjects with or without asthma. Co-culture with mast cells did not affect the rate of proliferation or survival of ASM cells.
Conclusion
Our findings do not support a role for increased airway smooth proliferation and survival as the major mechanism driving ASM hyperplasia in asthma.
Cite this as: D. Kaur, F. Hollins, R. Saunders, L. Woodman, A. Sutcliffe, G. Cruse, P. Bradding and C. Brightling, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 279– 288.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2009.03423.x
PMCID: PMC2821816  PMID: 20030664
airway smooth muscle; apoptosis; asthma; mast cells; necrosis; proliferation; survival
8.  Case-Control Analysis of SNPs in GLUT4, RBP4 and STRA6: Association of SNPs in STRA6 with Type 2 Diabetes in a South Indian Population 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11444.
Background
The inverse relationship between GLUT4 and RBP4 expression is known to play a role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Elevated levels of RBP4 were shown to cause insulin resistance in muscles and liver. Identification of STRA6 as a cell surface receptor for RBP4 provides further link in this axis and hence we analyzed SNPs in these three genes for association with type 2 diabetes in a South Indian population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Selected SNPs in the three genes were analyzed in a total of 2002 individuals belonging to Dravidian ethnicity, South India, by Tetra Primer ARMS PCR or RFLP PCR. Allele frequencies and genotype distribution were calculated in cases and controls and were analyzed for association by Chi-squared test and Logistic regression. Haplotype analysis was carried out for each gene by including all the markers in a single block. We observed a significant association of three SNPs, rs974456, rs736118, and rs4886578 in STRA6 with type 2 diabetes (P = 0.001, OR 0.79[0.69–0.91], P = 0.003, OR 0.81[0.71–0.93], and P = 0.001, OR 0.74[0.62–0.89] respectively). None of the SNPs in RBP4 and GLUT4 showed any association with type 2 diabetes. Haplotype analysis revealed that two common haplotypes H1 (111, P = 0.001, OR 1.23[1.08–1.40]) and H2 (222, P = 0.002 OR 0.73[0.59–0.89]) in STRA6, H6 (2121, P = 0.006, OR 1.69[1.51–2.48]) in RBP4 and H4 (2121, P = 0.01 OR 1.41[1.07–1.85]) in GLUT4 were associated with type 2 diabetes.
Conclusion
SNPs in STRA6, gene coding the cell surface receptor for RBP4, were significantly associated with type 2 diabetes and further genetic and functional studies are required to understand and ascertain its role in the manifestation of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011444
PMCID: PMC2897881  PMID: 20625434
9.  127 Eosinophils Enhance Airway Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation Via the Release of Cysteinyl Leukotrines 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S59-S60.
Background
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lung airways that is associated with airway remodeling and hyperresponsiveness. Its is well documented that the smooth muscle mass in asthmatic airways is increased due to hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the ASM cells. Moreover, eosinophils have been proposed in different studies to play a major role in airway remodeling. Here, we hypothesized that eosinophils modulate the airways through enhancing ASM cell proliferation. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of eosinophils on ASM cell proliferation using eosinophils isolated from asthmatic and normal control subjects.
Methods
Eosinophils were isolated from peripheral blood of 6 mild asthmatics and 6 normal control subjects. ASM cells were incubated with eosinophils or eosinophil membranes and ASM proliferation was estimated using thymidine incorporation. The mRNA expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) in ASM cells was measured using quantitative real-time PCR. The effect of eosinophil-derived proliferative cytokines on ASM cells was determined using neutralizing antibodies. The role of eosinophil derived Cysteinyl Leukotrienes in enhancing ASM was also investigated.
Results
Co-culture with eosinophils significantly increased ASM cell proliferation. However, there was no significant difference in ASM proliferation following incubation with eosinophils from asthmatic versus normal control subjects. Co-culture with eosinophil membranes had no effect on ASM proliferation. Moreover, there was no significant change in the mRNA expression of ECM proteins in ASM cells following co-culture with eosinophils when compared with medium alone. Interestingly, blocking the activity of cysteinyl Leukotries using antagonists inhibited eosinophil-derived ASM proliferation.
Conclusions
Eosinophils enhances the proliferation of ASM cells. This role of eosinophil does not seem to depend on ASM derived ECM proteins nor on Eosinophil derived TGF-β or TNF-α. Eosinophil seems to induce ASM proliferation via the secretion of Cysteinyl Leukotrienes.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000411872.81749.50
PMCID: PMC3513122
10.  Asthma in the elderly: a study of the role of vitamin D 
Background
Asthma in the elderly is poorly understood and vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are very common in older individuals. We studied the role of vitamin D in elderly asthmatics.
Methods
Asthmatics subjects, age 65 and older, were followed every 4 weeks for 12 weeks in the late fall and winter. During the study period they took 2,000 I.U. vitamin D3 daily. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and calcium were measured at baseline and study end.
Results
Twenty nine percent of subjects were deficient and 50% insufficient in serum vitamin D at baseline. Serum vitamin D increased from 24.3±9.2 ng/ml (60.7±23 nmol/L) to 34±7.1 ng/ml (84.9±17.7 nmol/L) at the end of the study (p<0.001), whereas calcium was unchanged. We found no significant association between vitamin D and subjects' demographics. Vitamin D was similar in men and women. There was no association between serum vitamin D and inhaled steroid dose. Vitamin D was significantly lower in subjects with uncontrolled asthma (Asthma Control Test, ACT≤19) compared to the ones with well controlled symptoms (p<0.05). In subjects with uncontrolled asthma at baseline, ACT scores increased significantly at the end of the study (p<0.04), but not at 4 and 8 weeks. Spirometric values remained unchanged throughout the study.
Conclusions
Elderly asthmatics very commonly have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Serum vitamin D levels were lower in subjects with uncontrolled asthma. In these subjects, vitamin D supplementation for 12 weeks led to improved ACT scores. Larger, randomized, placebo controlled studies are required to further evaluate whether vitamin D supplementation may improve asthma symptoms in this population.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01730976.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-10-48
PMCID: PMC4162927  PMID: 25221606
Asthma; Vitamin D; Elderly
11.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Adults
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Adults
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
Children
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Conclusions
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
12.  The relationship between eosinophilia and airway remodelling in mild asthma 
Background
Eosinophilia is a marker of corticosteroid responsiveness and risk of exacerbation in asthma; while it has been linked to submucosal matrix deposition, its relationship to other features of airway remodelling is less clear.
Objective
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between airway eosinophilia and airway remodelling.
Methods
Bronchial biopsies from subjects (n=20 in each group) with mild steroid-naïve asthma, with either low (0 – 0.45 mm−2)) or high submucosal eosinophil (23.43 – 46.28 mm−2) counts and healthy controls were assessed for in vivo epithelial damage (using EGFR staining), mucin expression, airway smooth muscle (ASM) hypertrophy and inflammatory cells within ASM.
Results
The proportion of in vivo damaged epithelium was significantly greater (p=0.02) in the eosinophil-high (27.37%) than the eosinophil-low (4.14%) group. Mucin expression and goblet cell numbers were similar in the two eosinophil groups; however, MUC-2 expression was increased (p=0.002) in the eosinophil-high group compared to controls. The proportion of submucosa occupied by ASM was higher in both asthma groups (p=0.021 and p=0.046) compared to controls. In the ASM, eosinophil and T lymphocyte numbers were higher (p<0.05) in the eosinophil-high group than both the eosinophil-low group and the controls, whilst the numbers of mast cells were increased in the eosinophil-high group (p=0.01) compared to controls.
Conclusion
Submucosal eosinophilia is a marker (and possibly a cause) of epithelial damage and is related to infiltration of airway smooth muscle with eosinophils and T lymphocytes but is unrelated to mucus metaplasia or smooth muscle hypertrophy.
doi:10.1111/cea.12156
PMCID: PMC4040270  PMID: 24261944
Asthma; eosinophil; remodelling; epithelium; goblet cell; smooth muscle; inflammation
13.  53 Association Between Eosinophil Apoptosis in Induced Sputum and Asthma Severity in Children 
Background
There is increasing evidence that the disorder of eosinophil apoptosis contributes to the mechanism of prominent airway inflammation in asthma. However the relationship between dysregulation of eosinophil apoptosis and severity of childhood asthma is still unclear.
Objective
Investigate the relationship between eosinophil apoptosis in induced sputum and severity of asthma in children.
Methods
Eighty-six children aged 6 to 12 years with asthma and 32 age-matched healthy controls were observed. Diagnosis of asthma was made using a clinical questionnaire, physical examination and skin prick tests (SPTs). Lung function, and induced sputum analysis were measured in all patients. Total and antigen specific IgE levels were assessesed by ELISA. Eosonophils apoptosis was determined by staining nuclei with propidium iodide, and analyzed with a FACScan. Expression Apo-1/Fas antigen (CD95) in sputum eosinophils was assessed by immunohistochemical staining techniques.
Results
Diagnosis of asthma was confirmed by positive SPT and increased total and specific IgE levels. Asthma severity (assessed by FEV1, peak expiratory flow (PEF) variability and daily symptom scores) complied with mild and moderate asthma. The percentage sputum eosinophils was expressively increased (threshold of <3%) in all asthmatic children (compared to control group) and directly correlated with peripheral blood eosinophilia, skin sensitization, increased level of total and specific IgE and clinical symptoms of asthma and all of these markers were more significant in children with moderate asthma (P < 0.05). Asthma children showed decreased eosinophils apoptosis (“apoptotic ratio”-AR) in induced sputum as compared to controls (P < 0.001), which directly correlated with predicted value of FEV1, PEF variability and inversely with symptoms score (P = 0.005), and was significantly lower in patients with moderate asthma than those in patients with mild (P = 0.001). More of that, these parameters also correlated with decreased expression of Apo-1/Fas antigen (CD95), especially in moderate asthmatic children (P < 0.05).
Conclusions
Our investigation: 1. Confirms that reduced eosinophil apoptosis in induced sputum associated with increased clinical severity of asthma in children. 2. Provides additional evidence that eosinophil apoptosis may be important in the resolution of eosinophilic airway inflammation in asthma, because of their prolonged survival that maintains inflammation.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000411798.18173.e0
PMCID: PMC3513001
14.  Vitamin D Insufficiency and Severe Asthma Exacerbations in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Vitamin D insufficiency (a serum 25(OH)D <30 ng/ml) has been associated with severe asthma exacerbations, but this could be explained by underlying racial ancestry or disease severity. Little is known about vitamin D and asthma in Puerto Ricans.
Objectives: To examine whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, and time outdoors.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 560 children ages 6–14 years with (n = 287) and without (n = 273) asthma in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We measured plasma vitamin D and estimated the percentage of African racial ancestry among participants using genome-wide genotypic data. We tested whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations, lung function, or atopy (greater than or equal to one positive IgE to allergens) using logistic or linear regression. Multivariate models were adjusted for African ancestry, time outdoors, atopy, and other covariates.
Measurements and Main Results: Vitamin D insufficiency was common in children with (44%) and without (47%) asthma. In multivariate analyses, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with higher odds of greater than or equal to one severe asthma exacerbation in the prior year (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5–4.9; P = 0.001) and atopy, and a lower FEV1/FVC in cases. After stratification by atopy, the magnitude of the association between vitamin D insufficiency and severe exacerbations was greater in nonatopic (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 2–21.6; P = 0.002) than in atopic (OR, 2; 95% CI, 1–4.1; P = 0.04) cases.
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, or markers of disease severity or control.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201203-0431OC
PMCID: PMC3406083  PMID: 22652028
vitamin D; asthma exacerbations; Puerto Ricans; childhood
15.  To Investigate the Necessity of STRA6 Upregulation in T Cells during T Cell Immune Responses 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82808.
Our earlier study revealed that STRA6 (stimulated by retinoic acid gene 6) was up-regulated within 3 h of TCR stimulation. STRA6 is the high-affinity receptor for plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP) and mediates cellular vitamin A uptake. We generated STRA6 knockout (KO) mice to assess whether such up-regulation was critical for T-cell activation, differentiation and function. STRA6 KO mice under vitamin A sufficient conditions were fertile without apparent anomalies upon visual inspection. The size, cellularity and lymphocyte subpopulations of STRA6 KO thymus and spleen were comparable to those of their wild type (WT) controls. KO and WT T cells were similar in terms of TCR-stimulated proliferation in vitro and homeostatic expansion in vivo. Naive KO CD4 cells differentiated in vitro into Th1, Th2, Th17 as well as regulatory T cells in an analogous manner as their WT counterparts. In vivo experiments revealed that anti-viral immune responses to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus in KO mice were comparable to those of WT controls. We also demonstrated that STRA6 KO and WT mice had similar glucose tolerance. Total vitamin A levels are dramatically lower in the eyes of KO mice as compared to those of WT mice, but the levels in other organs were not significantly affected after STRA6 deletion under vitamin A sufficient conditions, indicating that the eye is the mouse organ most sensitive to the loss of STRA6.
Our results demonstrate that 1) in vitamin A sufficiency, the deletion of STRA6 in T cells does no affect the T-cell immune responses so-far tested, including those depend on STAT5 signaling; 2) STRA6-independent vitamin A uptake compensated the lack of STRA6 in lymphoid organs under vitamin A sufficient conditions in mice; 3) STRA6 is critical for vitamin A uptake in the eyes even in vitamin A sufficiency.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082808
PMCID: PMC3876989  PMID: 24391722
16.  The Relationship Between Serum 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D Levels and Asthma in Children 
Purpose
Asthma and other allergic disorders have increased over the past decades in nearly all nations. Many studies have suggested the role of vitamin D deficiency in both T-helper1 and T-helper2 diseases; however, the association between vitamin D, allergy, and asthma remains uncertain. In this study, the associations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 levels with asthma and with the severity of asthma were evaluated.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted on 50 asthmatic children and 50 healthy controls aged 6-18 years. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 levels were determined and compared between the two groups. The relationship between serum vitamin D levels and pulmonary function test outcomes and eosinophil counts were examined in asthmatic patients.
Results
Univariate analysis of the relationship between asthma and vitamin D showed that decreased vitamin D levels were associated with significantly increased odds of asthmatic state (P=0.002). In a multivariate analysis after adjustment for age, body mass index, and sex, the relationship between vitamin D and asthma increased. In asthmatic patients, 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels had direct and significant correlations with both predicted FEV1 (R2=0.318; P=0.024) and FEV1/FVC (R2=0.315; P=0.026). There were no associations between vitamin D level and eosinophil counts, duration of disease, and the number of hospitalization or unscheduled visits in the previous year (P>0.05).
Conclusions
These results showed that serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels were inversely associated with asthma, and there was a direct and significant relationship between vitamin D levels and pulmonary function test outcomes in asthmatic children. An interventional study in asthmatic patients with low serum vitamin D concentration may establish a causal relationship between asthma and vitamin D.
doi:10.4168/aair.2011.3.4.251
PMCID: PMC3178823  PMID: 21966605
Asthma; vitamin D; allergy
17.  Corticosteroid use and bone mineral accretion in children with asthma: effect modification by vitamin D 
Background
The adverse effects of corticosteroids on bone mineral accretion (BMA) have been well documented. Vitamin D insufficiency, a prevalent condition in the pediatric population, has also been associated with decreased bone mineral density (BMD).
Objective
To determine whether children with asthma who have lower vitamin D levels are more susceptible to the negative effects of corticosteroids on BMD over time.
Methods
Children aged 5–12 years with mild-to-moderate asthma who participated in the Childhood Asthma Management Program were followed for a mean of 4.3 years. Total doses of inhaled and oral corticosteroids (OCS) were recorded, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels were measured at the beginning of the trial and serial DEXA scans of the lumbar spine were performed. Annual BMA rates were defined as: [(BMD at 4 years follow-up − BMD at baseline)/4 years].
Results
BMA was calculated for 780 subjects. In boys, baseline vitamin D levels significantly modified the relationship between OCS and BMA (vitamin D x OCS interaction, p=0.023). Stratification by vitamin D levels showed a decrease in BMA with increased use of OCS in vitamin D insufficient boys only (p<0.001). Compared to vitamin D sufficient boys, vitamin D insufficient boys exposed to more than 2 courses of oral corticosteroids per year had twice the decrease in BMA rate (relative to boys who were OCS-unexposed).
Conclusions
Vitamin D levels significantly modified the effect of oral corticosteroids on bone mineral accretion in boys. Further research is needed to examine whether vitamin D supplementation in children with poorly controlled asthma may confer benefits to bone health.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.04.005
PMCID: PMC3387323  PMID: 22608570
Asthma; vitamin D; bone mineral density; corticosteroids
18.  The Role of Inflammation Resolution Speed in Airway Smooth Muscle Mass Accumulation in Asthma: Insight from a Theoretical Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90162.
Despite a large amount of in vitro data, the dynamics of airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass increase in the airways of patients with asthma is not well understood. Here, we present a novel mathematical model that describes qualitatively the growth dynamics of ASM cells over short and long terms in the normal and inflammatory environments typically observed in asthma. The degree of ASM accumulation can be explained by an increase in the rate at which ASM cells switch between non-proliferative and proliferative states, driven by episodic inflammatory events. Our model explores the idea that remodelling due to ASM hyperplasia increases with the frequency and magnitude of these inflammatory events, relative to certain sensitivity thresholds. It highlights the importance of inflammation resolution speed by showing that when resolution is slow, even a series of small exacerbation events can result in significant remodelling, which persists after the inflammatory episodes. In addition, we demonstrate how the uncertainty in long-term outcome may be quantified and used to design an optimal low-risk individual anti-proliferative treatment strategy. The model shows that the rate of clearance of ASM proliferation and recruitment factors after an acute inflammatory event is a potentially important, and hitherto unrecognised, target for anti-remodelling therapy in asthma. It also suggests new ways of quantifying inflammation severity that could improve prediction of the extent of ASM accumulation. This ASM growth model should prove useful for designing new experiments or as a building block of more detailed multi-cellular tissue-level models.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090162
PMCID: PMC3954558  PMID: 24632688
19.  Endogenous laminin is required for human airway smooth muscle cell maturation 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):117.
Background
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction underlies acute bronchospasm in asthma. ASM cells can switch between a synthetic-proliferative phenotype and a contractile phenotype. While the effects of extracellular matrix (ECM) components on modulation of ASM cells to a synthetic phenotype have been reported, the role of ECM components on maturation of ASM cells to a contractile phenotype in adult lung is unclear. As both changes in ECM components and accumulation of contractile ASM are features of airway wall remodelling in asthma, we examined the role of the ECM protein, laminin, in the maturation of contractile phenotype in human ASM cells.
Methods
Human ASM cells were made senescence-resistant by stable expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Maturation to a contractile phenotype was induced by 7-day serum deprivation, as assessed by immunoblotting for desmin and calponin. The role of laminin on ASM maturation was investigated by comparing the effects of exogenous laminin coated on culture plates, and of soluble laminin peptide competitors. Endogenous expression of laminin chains during ASM maturation was also measured.
Results
Myocyte binding to endogenously expressed laminin was required for ASM phenotype maturation, as laminin competing peptides (YIGSR or GRGDSP) significantly reduced desmin and calponin protein accumulation that otherwise occurs with prolonged serum deprivation. Coating of plastic cell culture dishes with different purified laminin preparations was not sufficient to further promote accumulation of desmin or calponin during 7-day serum deprivation. Expression of α2, β1 and γ1 laminin chains by ASM cells was specifically up-regulated during myocyte maturation, suggesting a key role for laminin-2 in the development of the contractile phenotype.
Conclusion
While earlier reports suggest exogenously applied laminin slows the spontaneous modulation of ASM to a synthetic phenotype, we show for the first time that endogenously expressed laminin is required for ASM maturation to the contractile phenotype. As endogenously expressed laminin chains α2, β1 and γ1 are uniquely increased during myocyte maturation, these laminin chains may be key in this process. Thus, human ASM maturation appears to involve regulated endogenous expression of a select set of laminin chains that are essential for accumulation of contractile phenotype myocytes.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-117
PMCID: PMC1586013  PMID: 16968549
20.  Childhood asthma and vitamin D deficiency in Turkey: is there cause and effect relationship between them? 
Background
Epidemiological studies show that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are common worldwide and associated with many diseases including asthma. Our aim was to evaluate vitamin D insufficiency and its clinical consequences.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was carried out on 170 children consisted of 85 who were asthmatic and 85 who were not, aged 2 to 14 years in Tekirdag, Turkey, from September 2009 to May 2010. Children’s basal serum D vitamin levels were determined, and their eating habits, vitamin D intake, exposure to sunlight and use of health services during the previous year were investigated. The severity of asthma and levels of asthma control were assessed according to the Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines.
Results
The difference between mean vitamin D levels in the asthmatic group (mean +/- SD) 16.6 +/- 8.5 ng/mL and the healthy control group (mean +/- SD) 28.2 +/- 19.5 ng/mL was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.001). Children in the asthma group had less exposure to sunlight and ate a diet less rich in vitamin D (p < 0.001). A significant difference was observed between the groups regarding the frequency of respiratory tract infections leading to emergency unit admissions and number of hospitalizations (p < 0.001). It was also shown that a decrease in vitamin D level increased the severity of asthma (p < 0.001) and decreased the frequency of controlled asthma (p = 0.010).
Conclusion
This study has demonstrated the correlation between plasma 25 (OH) D levels and childhood asthma. Evidently, this relationship being influenced by multiple factors other than vitamin D, further studies should be conducted to explore the interrelation between all such factors.
doi:10.1186/1824-7288-39-78
PMCID: PMC3892001  PMID: 24330502
21.  Effect of Vitamin D and Inhaled Corticosteroid Treatment on Lung Function in Children 
Rationale: Low vitamin D levels are associated with asthma and decreased airway responsiveness. Treatment with inhaled corticosteroids improves airway responsiveness and asthma control.
Objectives: To assess the effect of vitamin D levels on prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and responsiveness to methacholine (PC20, provocative concentration of methacholine producing a 20% decline in FEV1) in patients with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids.
Methods: We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in the serum of children with persistent asthma at the time of enrollment in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. We divided subjects into the vitamin D sufficiency (>30 ng/ml), insufficiency (20–30 ng/ml), and deficiency (<20 ng/ml) groups. Covariates included age, treatment, sex, body mass index, race, history of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and season that vitamin D specimen was drawn. Our main outcome measures were change in prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and PC20 from enrollment to 8–12 months.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,024 subjects, 663 (65%) were vitamin D sufficient, 260 (25%) were insufficient, and 101 (10%) were deficient. Vitamin D–deficient subjects were more likely to be older, African American, and have a higher body mass index compared with the vitamin D–sufficient and insufficient subjects. In the inhaled corticosteroid treatment group, prebronchodilator FEV1 increased from randomization to 12 months by 140 ml in the vitamin D–deficient group and prebronchodilator FEV1 increased by 330 ml in the vitamin D insufficiency group and by 290 ml in the vitamin D sufficiency group (P = 0.0072), in adjusted models.
Conclusions: In children with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids, vitamin D deficiency is associated with poorer lung function than in children with vitamin D insufficiency or sufficiency.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201202-0351OC
PMCID: PMC3480528  PMID: 22798322
asthma; vitamin D; lung function; forced expiratory volume; children
22.  An RGS4-Mediated Phenotypic Switch of Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Fixed Airway Obstruction in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28504.
In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028504
PMCID: PMC3257220  PMID: 22253691
23.  Inflammation of bronchial smooth muscle in allergic asthma 
Thorax  2007;62(1):8-15.
Background
Recent observations in asthma suggest that bronchial smooth muscle is infiltrated by inflammatory cells including mast cells. Such an infiltration may contribute to airway remodelling that is partly due to an increase in smooth muscle mass. Whether muscle increase is the result of smooth muscle cell hypertrophy remains controversial and has not been studied by ultrastructural analysis. A morphometric analysis of airway smooth muscle (ASM) was undertaken in asthmatic patients using electron microscopy to examine the interactions between ASM cells and inflammatory cells.
Methods
ASM specimens were obtained from 14 asthmatic subjects and nine non‐asthmatic controls undergoing fibreoptic endoscopy. Inflammatory cell counts were assessed by immunohistochemistry, and ultrastructural parameters were measured using electron microscopy in a blinded fashion on smooth muscle cells and inflammatory cells.
Results
ASM from asthmatic patients was infiltrated by an increased number of mast cells and lymphocytes. Smooth muscle cells and their basal lamina were thicker in asthmatic patients (9.5 (0.8) and 1.4 (0.2) μm) than in controls (6.7 (0.4) and 0.7 (0.1) μm). In asthmatics the extracellular matrix was frequently organised in large amounts between ASM cells. Myofibroblasts within smooth muscle bundles were only observed in asthmatics, some of them displaying a close contact with ASM cells.
Conclusion
In asthma, airway myositis is characterised by a direct interaction between ASM cells and mast cells and lymphocytes. Smooth muscle remodelling was present, including cell hypertrophy and abnormal extracellular matrix deposition moulding ASM cells.
doi:10.1136/thx.2006.062141
PMCID: PMC2111285  PMID: 17189531
asthma; smooth muscle; inflammation; mast cell; myofibroblast
24.  Link between vitamin D and airway remodeling 
In the last decade, many epidemiologic studies have investigated the link between vitamin D deficiency and asthma. Most studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of asthma and allergies. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with asthma severity and loss of control, together with recurrent exacerbations. Remodeling is an early event in asthma described as a consequence of production of mediators and growth factors by inflammatory and resident bronchial cells. Consequently, lung function is altered, with a decrease in forced expiratory volume in one second and exacerbated airway hyperresponsiveness. Subepithelial fibrosis and airway smooth muscle cell hypertrophy are typical features of structural changes in the airways. In animal models, vitamin D deficiency enhances inflammation and bronchial anomalies. In severe asthma of childhood, major remodeling is observed in patients with low vitamin D levels. Conversely, the antifibrotic and antiproliferative effects of vitamin D in smooth muscle cells have been described in several experiments. In this review, we briefly summarize the current knowledge regarding the relationship between vitamin D and asthma, and focus on its effect on airway remodeling and its potential therapeutic impact for asthma.
doi:10.2147/JAA.S46944
PMCID: PMC3979801  PMID: 24729717
vitamin D; asthma; airway remodeling; airway smooth muscle; supplementation
25.  Risk factors related to persistent airflow obstruction in severe asthma in Chinese Han population 
Objective: To explore the significance of assessing persistent airway obstruction (PAO) in asthma patients by airway wall remodeling with bronchoscopy, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), and biological markers in the induced sputum and serum, exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), and lung function. Methods: The study was conducted in 119 patients with PAO and 125 patients with reversible airway obstruction (RAO). Endobronchial biopsy specimens were analyzed for airway smooth muscle (ASM) area, and reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickness. Airway thickness was also measured by HRCT scanning. Levels of matrix metalloproteases-9 (MMP-9), metalloproteinase 33 (ADAM33), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were measured in the induced sputum and serum by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. Result: PAO was associated with longer disease duration, absence of atopy and rhinitis, and larger ASM area (SMA%) (15.83%±2.32% [n=9] vs. 8.0%±1.68% [n=7], P=0.02), thicker RBM (16.27±2.32 μm [n=9] vs. 8.71±2.41 μm [n=7], P=0.042); No differences in any of the biomarker molecules measured in airway thickness in HRCT, sputum and blood individually between groups were found. Conclusion: Severe asthma patients with longer disease duration and the absence of atopy and rhinitis are more likely to develop PAO in Chines Han population. PAO patients have increased ASM area and RBM thickness appear to be valuable in the evaluation of airway remodeling in asthma patients in Chinese Han population.
PMCID: PMC4307496  PMID: 25664049
Bronchoscopy; high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT); persistent airway obstruction (PAO); reversible airway obstruction (RAO)

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