No consensus exists for adjusting inhaled corticosteroid therapy in patients with asthma. Approaches include adjustment at outpatient visits guided by physician assessment of asthma control (symptoms, rescue therapy, pulmonary function), based on exhaled nitric oxide, or on a day-to-day basis guided by symptoms.
To determine if adjustment of inhaled corticosteroid therapy based on exhaled nitric oxide or day-to-day symptoms is superior to guideline-informed, physician assessment–based adjustment in preventing treatment failure in adults with mild to moderate asthma.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A randomized, parallel, 3-group, placebo-controlled, multiply-blinded trial of 342 adults with mild to moderate asthma controlled by low-dose inhaled corticosteroid therapy (n=114 assigned to physician assessment–based adjustment [101 completed], n=115 to biomarker-based [exhaled nitric oxide] adjustment [92 completed], and n=113 to symptom-based adjustment [97 completed]), the Best Adjustment Strategy for Asthma in the Long Term (BASALT) trial was conducted by the Asthma Clinical Research Network at 10 academic medical centers in the United States for 9 months between June 2007 and July 2010.
For physician assessment–based adjustment and biomarker-based (exhaled nitric oxide) adjustment, the dose of inhaled corticosteroids was adjusted every 6 weeks; for symptom-based adjustment, inhaled corticosteroids were taken with each albuterol rescue use.
Main Outcome Measure
The primary outcome was time to treatment failure.
There were no significant differences in time to treatment failure. The 9-month Kaplan-Meier failure rates were 22% (97.5% CI, 14%-33%; 24 events) for physician assessment–based adjustment, 20% (97.5% CI, 13%-30%; 21 events) for biomarker-based adjustment, and 15% (97.5% CI, 9%-25%; 16 events) for symptom-based adjustment. The hazard ratio for physician assessment–based adjustment vs biomarker-based adjustment was 1.2 (97.5% CI, 0.6-2.3). The hazard ratio for physician assessment–based adjustment vs symptom-based adjustment was 1.6 (97.5% CI, 0.8-3.3).
Among adults with mild to moderate persistent asthma controlled with low-dose inhaled corticosteroid therapy, the use of either biomarker-based or symptom-based adjustment of inhaled corticosteroids was not superior to physician assessment–based adjustment of inhaled corticosteroids in time to treatment failure.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00495157
Benralizumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds the α subunit of the receptor to IL-5. As IL-5 is implicated in disease states that are mediated by eosinophils, benralizumab is an attractive option for use in the management of asthma. As a result of enhanced antibody-directed cell cytotoxicity, it has enhanced eosinophil-depleting activity as compared with neutralizing monoclonal antibody directed against IL-5.
This review presents the available data on benralizumab, including pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, preclinical data and relevant clinical studies.
Our review indicates that although further investigation is necessary to demonstrate clinical benefit, benralizumab remains a promising treatment modality.
asthma; benralizumab; IL-5; IL-5Rα; MEDI-563
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) has characterized over the past 10 years 1,644 patients with asthma, including 583 individuals with severe asthma. SARP collaboration has led to a rapid recruitment of subjects and efficient sharing of samples among participating sites to conduct independent mechanistic investigations of severe asthma. Enrolled SARP subjects underwent detailed clinical, physiologic, genomic, and radiological evaluations. In addition, SARP investigators developed safe procedures for bronchoscopy in participants with asthma, including those with severe disease. SARP studies revealed that severe asthma is a heterogeneous disease with varying molecular, biochemical, and cellular inflammatory features and unique structure–function abnormalities. Priorities for future studies include recruitment of a larger number of subjects with severe asthma, including children, to allow further characterization of anatomic, physiologic, biochemical, and genetic factors related to severe disease in a longitudinal assessment to identify factors that modulate the natural history of severe asthma and provide mechanistic rationale for management strategies.
asthma; remodeling; inflammation; bronchoscopy; imaging
Asthmatic patients are currently classified as either severe or non-severe based primarily on their response to glucocorticoids. However, because this classification is based on a post-hoc assessment of treatment response, it does not inform the rational staging of disease or therapy. Recent studies in other diseases suggest that a classification which includes molecular information could lead to more accurate diagnoses and prediction of treatment response. We therefore measured cytokine values in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples of the lower respiratory tract obtained from 83 asthma patients, and used bipartite network visualizations with associated quantitative measures to conduct an exploratory analysis of the co-occurrence of cytokines across patients. The analysis helped to identify three clusters of patients which had a complex but understandable interaction with three clusters of cytokines, leading to insights for a state-based classification of asthma patients. Furthermore, while the patient clusters were significantly different based on key pulmonary functions, they appeared to have no significant relationship to the current classification of asthma patients. These results suggest the need to define a molecular-based classification of asthma patients, which could improve the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that leads to various degrees of recurrent respiratory symptoms affecting patients globally. Specific subgroups of asthma patients have severe disease leading to increased healthcare costs and socioeconomic burden. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of the asthma, there are limitations in predicting response to therapy and identifying patients who are at increased risk of morbidity. This syndrome presents with common clinical signs and symptoms; however, awareness of subgroups of asthma patients with distinct characteristics has surfaced in recent years. Investigators attempt to describe the phenotypes of asthma to ultimately assist with diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Approaches to asthma phenotyping are multifold; however, it can be partitioned into 2 essential groups, clinical phenotyping and molecular phenotyping. Innovative techniques such as bipartite network analysis and visual analytics introduce a new dimension of data analysis to identify underlying mechanistic pathways.
Asthma; Allergic; Exercise induced; Molecular; Bipartite; Phenotype; Network; Logistic regression; Multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS); Cytokines; Cluster analysis; Classification regression trees (CART); Heterogeneous; Airway; Inflammation
Investigative bronchoscopy was performed in a subset of participants in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) to gain insights into the pathobiology of severe disease. We evaluated the safety aspects of this procedure in this cohort with specific focus on patients with severe asthma.
To prospectively evaluate changes in lung function and the frequency of adverse events related to investigative bronchoscopy.
Bronchoscopy was performed using a common Manual of Procedures. A subset of very severe asthma was defined by severe airflow obstruction, chronic oral corticosteroid use and recent asthma exacerbations. Subjects were monitored for changes in lung function and contacted by telephone for 3 days after the procedure.
436 subjects underwent bronchoscopy (97 normal, 196 not severe, 102 severe and 41 very severe asthma). Nine subjects were evaluated in hospital settings after bronchoscopy; seven of these were respiratory related events. Recent Emergency Department visits, chronic oral corticosteroid use and a history of pneumonia were more frequent in subjects who had asthma exacerbations after bronchoscopy. The fall in FEV1 following bronchoscopy was similar in the severe compared to milder asthma group. Pre-bronchodilator FEV1 was the strongest predictor of change in FEV1 after bronchoscopy with larger decreases observed in subjects with better lung function.
Bronchoscopy in severe asthma subjects was well tolerated. Asthma exacerbations were rare and reduction in pulmonary function after the procedure was similar to subjects with less severe asthma. With proper precautions, investigative bronchoscopy can be performed safely in severe asthma.
investigative bronchoscopy; safety; severe asthma; exacerbation
Two recent large meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies of lung function in general populations of European descent identified 11 candidate genes/regions. The importance of these genes in lung function in whites and African Americans with asthma is unknown.
To determine if genes that regulate lung function in general populations are associated with lung function abnormalities in subjects with asthma from different racial groups.
SNPs were tested in five asthma populations (n = 1,441) for association with pulmonary function and meta-analysis was performed across populations. The SNPs with the highest significance were then tested for association with bronchodilator reversibility and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine (BHR). A joint analysis of consistently replicated SNPs was performed to predict lung function in asthma.
Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) on chromosome 4q31 was associated with lung function in all five populations, rs1512288: Pmeta = 9.62E-05 and 3.23E-05 for ppFEV1 and ppFVC, respectively. The SNPs in HHIP were also associated with reversibility (P < 0.05) but not BHR. Because of differences in linkage disequilibrium in the African-American subjects, the most relevant SNPs in HHIP were identified. A subset of normal lung function genes, including HHIP, family with sequence similarity 13, member A (FAM13A), and patched homolog 1 (PTCH1), together predict lung function abnormalities, a measure of severity in whites and African Americans with asthma.
A subset of the genes, including HHIP, which regulate lung function in general populations are associated with abnormal lung function in asthma in non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.
Asthma; Genetics; Asthma severity; Meta-analysis; FEV1; FVC; FEV1/FVC; HHIP; FAM13A; PTCH1
Studies of asthma phenotypes have identified obesity as a component of a group characterized by a high proportion of adult-onset asthmatics. However, whether age of asthma onset modifies the association between obesity and asthma is unknown.
From the Severe Asthma Project (SARP), we defined age of asthma onset as early (before 12 years of age) and late-onset (12 and higher). Comparisons of body mass index (BMI) categories were done within age of onset groups and obesity was also compared across these groups. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was done to evaluate the association between BMI categories with healthcare utilization and respiratory symptoms and multivariable linear regression for the association between duration of asthma and weight gain (BMI change/yr). An interaction between obesity and age of asthma onset was included in the multivariable analyses.
The study population consisted on 1,049 subjects of which the median age for asthma onset was 10 years (IQR 4 – 25); 48% were late-onset (≥ 12) and 52% were early-onset (<12). Compared to late-onset obese asthmatics, early-onset obese asthmatics had more airway obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and higher OR of ever having 3 or more oral steroid tapers preceding/year or ICU admissions for asthma/preceding year (Interactions between obesity and age of asthma onset were respectively p=0.055 and p=0.02). In early-onset, but not in late-onset asthmatics, there was a significant association between increasing BMI and duration of asthma, after adjusting for confounders. The interaction between asthma duration and age of asthma onset was p < 0.01.
Asthmatics are differentially affected by obesity, based on whether they developed asthma early (<12 years) or later in life. These results highlight the need to understand obesity as a comorbidity that affects specific clinical phenotypes and not all asthma subjects alike.
Severe; asthma; obesity; SARP
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) studies have demonstrated evidence of M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae in the lower airways of patients with asthma.
To test the hypothesis that clarithromycin would improve asthma control in individuals with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma that was not well-controlled despite treatment with low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
Adults with an Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) score ≥1.5 after a 4 week period of treatment with fluticasone propionate were entered into a PCR-stratified randomized trial to evaluate the effect of 16 weeks of either clarithromycin or placebo, added to fluticasone, on asthma control in individuals with or without lower airway PCR evidence of M. pneumoniae or C. pneumoniae.
92 participants were randomized. Twelve (13%) subjects demonstrated PCR evidence of M. pneumoniae or C. pneumoniae in endobronchial biopsies; 80 were PCR negative for both organisms. In PCR positive participants, clarithromycin yielded a 0.4±0.4 unit improvement in the ACQ score, with a 0.1±0.3 unit improvement in those allocated to placebo. This between-group difference of 0.3±0.5 (p=0.6) was neither clinically nor statistically significant. In PCR negative participants, a non-significant between-group difference of 0.2±0.2 units (p=0.3) was observed. Clarithromycin did not improve lung function or airway inflammation but did improve airway hyperresponsiveness, increasing the methacholine PC20 by 1.2±0.5 doubling doses (p=0.02) in the study population.
Adding clarithromycin to fluticasone in adults with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma that was suboptimally-controlled by low-dose ICS alone did not further improve asthma control. Although there was an improvement in airway hyperresponsiveness with clarithromycin, this benefit was not accompanied by improvements in other secondary outcomes.
asthma; infection; antibiotic
Rationale: Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation in mild to moderate asthma. However, whether FeNO levels are informative regarding airway inflammation in patients with severe asthma, who are refractory to conventional treatment, is unknown. Here, we hypothesized that classification of severe asthma based on airway inflammation as defined by FeNO levels would identify a more reactive, at-risk asthma phenotype.
Methods: FeNO and major features of asthma, including airway inflammation, airflow limitation, hyperinflation, hyperresponsiveness, and atopy, were determined in 446 individuals with various degrees of asthma severity (175 severe, 271 nonsevere) and 49 healthy subjects enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program.
Measurements and Main Results: FeNO levels were similar among patients with severe and nonsevere asthma. The proportion of individuals with high FeNO levels (>35 ppb) was the same (40%) among groups despite greater corticosteroid therapy in severe asthma. All patients with asthma and high FeNO had more airway reactivity (maximal reversal in response to bronchodilator administration and by methacholine challenge), more evidence of allergic airway inflammation (sputum eosinophils), more evidence of atopy (positive skin tests, higher serum IgE and blood eosinophils), and more hyperinflation, but decreased awareness of their symptoms. High FeNO identified those patients with severe asthma characterized by the greatest airflow obstruction and hyperinflation and most frequent use of emergency care.
Conclusions: Grouping of asthma by FeNO provides an independent classification of asthma severity, and among patients with severe asthma identifies the most reactive and worrisome asthma phenotype.
nitric oxide; severe asthma; phenotype; airway reactivity; exhaled breath
Long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) therapy improves symptoms in patients whose asthma is poorly controlled by an inhaled glucocorticoid alone. Alternative treatments for adults with uncontrolled asthma are needed.
In a three-way, double-blind, triple-dummy crossover trial involving 210 patients with asthma, we evaluated the addition of tiotropium bromide (a long-acting anticholinergic agent approved for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but not asthma) to an inhaled glucocorticoid, as compared with a doubling of the dose of the inhaled glucocorticoid (primary superiority comparison) or the addition of the LABA salmeterol (secondary noninferiority comparison).
The use of tiotropium resulted in a superior primary outcome, as compared with a doubling of the dose of an inhaled glucocorticoid, as assessed by measuring the morning peak expiratory flow (PEF), with a mean difference of 25.8 liters per minute (P<0.001) and superiority in most secondary outcomes, including evening PEF, with a difference of 35.3 liters per minute (P<0.001); the proportion of asthma-control days, with a difference of 0.079 (P = 0.01); the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) before bronchodilation, with a difference of 0.10 liters (P = 0.004); and daily symptom scores, with a difference of −0.11 points (P<0.001). The addition of tiotropium was also noninferior to the addition of salmeterol for all assessed outcomes and increased the prebronchodilator FEV1 more than did salmeterol, with a difference of 0.11 liters (P = 0.003).
When added to an inhaled glucocorticoid, tiotropium improved symptoms and lung function in patients with inadequately controlled asthma. Its effects appeared to be equivalent to those with the addition of salmeterol. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00565266.)
Rationale: The Severe Asthma Research Program cohort includes subjects with persistent asthma who have undergone detailed phenotypic characterization. Previous univariate methods compared features of mild, moderate, and severe asthma.
Objectives: To identify novel asthma phenotypes using an unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis.
Methods: Reduction of the initial 628 variables to 34 core variables was achieved by elimination of redundant data and transformation of categorical variables into ranked ordinal composite variables. Cluster analysis was performed on 726 subjects.
Measurements and Main Results: Five groups were identified. Subjects in Cluster 1 (n = 110) have early onset atopic asthma with normal lung function treated with two or fewer controller medications (82%) and minimal health care utilization. Cluster 2 (n = 321) consists of subjects with early-onset atopic asthma and preserved lung function but increased medication requirements (29% on three or more medications) and health care utilization. Cluster 3 (n = 59) is a unique group of mostly older obese women with late-onset nonatopic asthma, moderate reductions in FEV1, and frequent oral corticosteroid use to manage exacerbations. Subjects in Clusters 4 (n = 120) and 5 (n = 116) have severe airflow obstruction with bronchodilator responsiveness but differ in to their ability to attain normal lung function, age of asthma onset, atopic status, and use of oral corticosteroids.
Conclusions: Five distinct clinical phenotypes of asthma have been identified using unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis. All clusters contain subjects who meet the American Thoracic Society definition of severe asthma, which supports clinical heterogeneity in asthma and the need for new approaches for the classification of disease severity in asthma.
asthma phenotype; definition; cluster analysis; severe asthma
An important problem in realizing personalized medicine is the development of methods for identifying disease subtypes using quantitative proteomics. Recently we found that bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cytokine patterns contain information about dynamic lung responsiveness. In this study, we examined physiological data from 1048 subjects enrolled in the US Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) to identify four largely separable, quantitative intermediate phenotypes. Upper extremes in the study population were identified for eosinophil- or neutrophil- predominant inflammation, bronchodilation in response to albuterol treatment, or methacholine sensitivity. We evaluated four different statistical (“machine”) learning methods to predict each intermediate phenotypes using BAL cytokine measurements on a 76 subject subset. Comparison of these models using area under the ROC curve and overall classification accuracy indicated that logistic regression and multivariate adaptive regression splines produced the most accurate methods to predict intermediate asthma phenotypes. These robust classification methods will aid future translational studies in asthma targeted at specific intermediate phenotypes.
Asthma; logistic regression; multivariate regression splines; quantitative phenotypes; personalized medicine
Asthma is a heterogeneous clinical disorder. Methods for objective identification of disease subtypes will focus on clinical interventions and help identify causative pathways. Few studies have explored phenotypes at a molecular level.
We sought to discriminate asthma phenotypes based on cytokine profiles in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples from mild-moderate and severe asthmatics.
Twenty five cytokines were measured in BAL samples of 84 patients (41 severe, 43 mild-moderate) using bead-based multiplex immunoassays. The normalized data were subjected to statistical and informatics analysis.
Four groups of asthmatic profiles could be identified on the basis of unsupervised analysis (hierarchical clustering) that were independent of treatment. One group, enriched in severe asthmatics, showed differences in BAL cellular content, reductions in baseline pulmonary function and enhanced response to methacholine provocation. Ten cytokines were identified that accurately predicted this group. Classification methods for predicting methacholine sensitivity were developed. The best model analysis predicted hyper-responders (HR) with 88% accuracy in 10 trials using a 10-fold cross validation. The cytokines that contributed to this model were IL-2, IL-4, and IL-5. Based on this classifier, three distinct HR Classes were identified that varied in BAL eosinophil count and PC20 methacholine.
Cytokine expression patterns in BAL can be used to identify distinct types of asthma and identify distinct subsets of methacholine HR. Further biomarker discovery in BAL may be informative.
Asthma; inflammation; cytokines; phenotypes; ELISA; hierarchical clustering; bioinformatics; class discovery
Combined long-acting β2-agonist and inhaled corticosteroid (LABA/ICS) therapy improves outcomes in many asthmatics. Some studies suggest that patients homozygous for arginine at the 16th amino-acid position of the β2 adrenergic receptor (B16 Arg/Arg) benefit less than those with B16 Gly/Gly.
In an NIH-funded, B16 genotype-stratified, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial (www.ClinicalTrials.gov registration ID NCT00200967), we compared adding salmeterol or placebo to ICS in patients with moderate asthma, using AM PEF as the primary outcome.
After 18 weeks, Arg/Arg (n=42) and Gly/Gly (n=45) subjects had greater AM PEF with salmeterol than placebo, with no difference in improvement by genotype (Arg/Arg 21.4 (p<0.0001) vs. Gly/Gly 21.5 L/min (p<0.0001); 0.1 L/min difference between genotypes, 95% CI (−14.2, 14.4), p=0.99). In Gly/Gly subjects, methacholine PC20 (a secondary outcome) doubled when salmeterol was added to ICS (p<0.0001), but remained unchanged in Arg/Arg subjects (p=0.87) (1.32 doubling dose difference between genotypes (95%CI 0.43,2.21), p=0.0038). An exploratory posthoc subset analysis of African Americans showed that salmeterol improved the AM and PM PEF for the 8 Gly/Gly subjects (29 L/min, p=0.013 and 45 L/min, p= 0.0005, respectively) but not for the 9 Arg/Arg subjects (−12 L/min, p=0.57 and−2.2 L/min, p=0.92, respectively).
B16 Arg/Arg and Gly/Gly patients experience improved airway function with salmeterol added to moderate-dose ICS. While these data provide reassurance that in the general population these polymorphisms should not alter the use of LABA with moderate-dose ICS, the significance of the genotype-differentiated response in airway reactivity favoring Gly/Gly subjects and the post-hoc analysis in African Americans require further investigation.
Asthma; pharmacogenetics; beta-adrenergic receptor; beta-agonists; salmeterol
Severe asthma causes the majority of asthma morbidity. Understanding mechanisms that contribute to the development of severe disease is important.
The goal of the Severe Asthma Research Program is to identify and characterize subjects with severe asthma to understand pathophysiologic mechanisms in severe asthma.
We performed a comprehensive phenotypic characterization (questionnaires, atopy and pulmonary function testing, phlebotomy, exhaled nitric oxide) in subjects with severe and not severe asthma.
A total of 438 subjects with asthma were studied (204 severe, 70 moderate, 164 mild). Severe subjects with asthma were older with longer disease duration (P < .0001), more daily symptoms, intense urgent health care utilization, sinusitis, and pneumonia (P ≤ .0001). Lung function was lower in severe asthma with marked bronchodilator reversibility (P < .001). The severe group had less atopy by skin tests (P = .0007), but blood eosinophils, IgE, and exhaled nitric oxide levels did not differentiate disease severity. A reduced FEV1, history of pneumonia, and fewer positive skin tests were risk factors for severe disease. Early disease onset (age < 12 years) in severe asthma was associated with longer disease duration (P < .0001) and more urgent health care, especially intensive care (P = .002). Later disease onset (age ≥ 12 years) was associated with lower lung function and sinopulmonary infections (P ≤ .02).
Severe asthma is characterized by abnormal lung function that is responsive to bronchodilators, a history of sinopulmonary infections, persistent symptoms, and increased health care utilization.
Lung function abnormalities in severe asthma are reversible in most patients, and pneumonia is a risk factor for the development of severe disease.
Severe asthma; definition; bronchodilator response; pathophysiology; phenotype; pneumonia
Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) involves airway obstruction with an onset shortly after exercising. It can occur in individuals without a diagnosis of asthma, but is most common in asthmatic patients (and in this scenario may be referred to as exercise-induced asthma, EIA), correlating with the patient's degree of airway hyperreactivity. While albuterol is the most commonly used rescue and prophylactic medication for EIB, the leukotriene antagonist, monetlukast, may be an appropriate choice for some patients. Clinical data have shown that once-daily treatment with montelukast (5 or 10 mg tablet) can offer protection against EIB within 3 days for some patients. Such an approach might be preferred for patients who have difficulty with inhaled medications and for children who cannot access their inhalers during the school day. Montelukast also may be an option to reduce side effects associated with albuterol for individuals who exercise regularly.
asthma; exercise-induced bronchospasm; exercise-induced asthma; airway hyperreactivity; bronchial hyperresponsiveness; albuterol; montelukast
Rationale: As the sole nitrogen donor in nitric oxide (NO) synthesis and key intermediate in the urea cycle, arginine and its metabolic pathways are integrally linked to cellular respiration, metabolism, and inflammation.
Objectives: We hypothesized that arginine (Arg) bioavailability would be associated with airflow abnormalities and inflammation in subjects with asthma, and would be informative for asthma severity.
Methods: Arg bioavailability was assessed in subjects with severe and nonsevere asthma and healthy control subjects by determination of plasma Arg relative to its metabolic products, ornithine and citrulline, and relative to methylarginine inhibitors of NO synthases, and by serum arginase activity. Inflammatory parameters, including fraction of exhaled NO (FeNO), IgE, skin test positivity to allergens, bronchoalveolar lavage, and blood eosinophils, were also evaluated.
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with asthma had greater Arg bioavailability, but also increased Arg catabolism compared with healthy control subjects, as evidenced by higher levels of FeNO and serum arginase activity. However, Arg bioavailability was positively associated with FeNO only in healthy control subjects; Arg bioavailability was unrelated to FeNO or other inflammatory parameters in severe or nonsevere asthma. Inflammatory parameters were related to airflow obstruction and reactivity in nonsevere asthma, but not in severe asthma. Conversely, Arg bioavailability was related to airflow obstruction in severe asthma, but not in nonsevere asthma. Modeling confirmed that measures of Arg bioavailabilty predict airflow obstruction only in severe asthma.
Conclusions: Unlike FeNO, Arg bioavailability is not a surrogate measure of inflammation; however, Arg bioavailability is strongly associated with airflow abnormalities in severe asthma.
asthma; arginine; arginase; nitric oxide; methylarginine
Rationale: Airway inflammation is common in severe asthma despite antiinflammatory therapy with corticosteroids. Lipoxin A4 (LXA4) is an arachidonic acid–derived mediator that serves as an agonist for resolution of inflammation.
Objectives: Airway levels of LXA4, as well as the expression of lipoxin biosynthetic genes and receptors, in severe asthma.
Methods: Samples of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were obtained from subjects with asthma and levels of LXA4 and related eicosanoids were measured. Expression of lipoxin biosynthetic genes was determined in whole blood, bronchoalveolar lavage cells, and endobronchial biopsies by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and leukocyte LXA4 receptors were monitored by flow cytometry.
Measurements and Main Results: Individuals with severe asthma had significantly less LXA4 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (11.2 ± 2.1 pg/ml) than did subjects with nonsevere asthma (150.1 ± 38.5 pg/ml; P < 0.05). In contrast, levels of cysteinyl leukotrienes were increased in both asthma cohorts compared with healthy individuals. In severe asthma, 15-lipoxygenase-1 mean expression was decreased fivefold in bronchoalveolar lavage cells. In contrast, 15-lipoxgenase-1 was increased threefold in endobronchial biopsies, but expression of both 5-lipoxygenase and 15-lipoxygenase-2 in these samples was decreased. Cyclooxygenase-2 expression was decreased in all anatomic compartments sampled in severe asthma. Moreover, LXA4 receptor gene and protein expression were significantly decreased in severe asthma peripheral blood granulocytes.
Conclusions: Mechanisms underlying pathological airway responses in severe asthma include lipoxin underproduction with decreased expression of lipoxin biosynthetic enzymes and receptors. Together, these results indicate that severe asthma is characterized, in part, by defective lipoxin counterregulatory signaling circuits.
severe asthma; lipoxins; eicosanoids
Long-term and unresolved airway inflammation and airway remodeling, characteristic features of chronic asthma, if not treated could lead to permanent structural changes in the airways. Aldose reductase (AR), an aldo-sugar and lipid aldehyde metabolizing enzyme, mediates allergen-induced airway inflammation in mice, but its role in the airway remodeling is not known. In the present study, we have examined the role of AR on airway remodeling using ovalbumin (OVA)-induced chronic asthma mouse model and cultured human primary airway epithelial cells (SAECs) and mouse lung fibroblasts (mLFs).
Airway remodeling in chronic asthma model was established in mice sensitized and challenged twice a week with OVA for 6 weeks. AR inhibitor, fidarestat, was administered orally in drinking water after first challenge. Inflammatory cells infiltration in the lungs and goblet cell metaplasia, airway thickening, collagen deposition and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) in response to increasing doses of methacholine were assessed. The TGFβ1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in SAECs and changes in mLFs were examined to investigate AR-mediated molecular mechanism(s) of airway remodeling.
In the OVA-exposed mice for 6 wks inflammatory cells infiltration, levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, goblet cell metaplasia, collagen deposition and AHR were significantly decreased by treatment with AR inhibitor, fidarestat. Further, inhibition of AR prevented TGFβ1-induced altered expression of E-cadherin, Vimentin, Occludin, and MMP-2 in SAECs, and alpha-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin in mLFs. Further, in SAECs, AR inhibition prevented TGFβ1- induced activation of PI3K/AKT/GSK3β pathway but not the phosphorylation of Smad2/3.
Our results demonstrate that allergen-induced airway remodeling is mediated by AR and its inhibition blocks the progression of remodeling via inhibiting TGFβ1-induced Smad-independent and PI3K/AKT/GSK3β-dependent pathway.
The asthmatic response to the common cold is highly variable and early characteristics that predict worsening of asthma control following a cold have not been identified.
In this prospective multi-center cohort study of 413 adult subjects with asthma, we used the mini-Asthma Control Questionnaire (mini-ACQ) to quantify changes in asthma control and the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 (WURSS-21) to measure cold severity. Univariate and multivariable models examined demographic, physiologic, serologic, and cold-related characteristics for their relationship to changes in asthma control following a cold.
We observed a clinically significant worsening of asthma control following a cold (increase in mini-ACQ of 0.69 ± 0.93). Univariate analysis demonstrated season, center location, cold length, and cold severity measurements all associated with a change in asthma control. Multivariable analysis of the covariates available within the first 2 days of cold onset revealed the day 2 and the cumulative sum of the day 1 and 2 WURSS-21 scores were significant predictors for the subsequent changes in asthma control.
In asthmatic subjects the cold severity measured within the first 2 days can be used to predict subsequent changes in asthma control. This information may help clinicians prevent deterioration in asthma control following a cold.
asthma; asthma control; common cold
Post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation are known to play an important role in the gene regulation by the transcription factors including the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily of which the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is a member. Protein phosphorylation often switches cellular activity from one state to another. Like many other transcription factors, the GR is a phosphoprotein, and phosphorylation plays an important role in the regulation of GR activity. Cell signaling pathways that regulate phosphorylation of the GR and its associated proteins are important determinants of GR function under various physiological conditions. While the role of many phosphorylation sites in the GR is still not fully understood, the role of others is clearer. Several aspects of transcription factor function, including DNA binding affinity, interaction of transactivation domains with the transcription initiation complex, and shuttling between the cytoplasmic compartments, have all been linked to site-specific phosphorylation. All major phosphorylation sites in the human GR are located in the N-terminal domain including the major transactivation domain, AF1. Available literature clearly indicates that many of these potential phosphorylation sites are substrates for multiple kinases, suggesting the potential for a very complex regulatory network. Phosphorylated GR interacts favorably with critical coregulatory proteins and subsequently enhances transcriptional activity. In addition, the activities and specificities of coregulators may be subject to similar regulation by phosphorylation. Regulation of the GR activity due to phosphorylation appears to be site-specific and dependent upon specific cell signaling cascade. Taken together, site-specific phosphorylation and related kinase pathways play an important role in the action of the GR, and more precise mechanistic information will lead to fuller understanding of the complex nature of gene regulation by the GR- and related transcription factors. This review provides currently available information regarding the role of GR phosphorylation in its action, and highlights the possible underlying mechanisms of action.
glucocorticoid receptor; phosphorylation; transactivation activity; gene regulation; coactivators
Nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) in exhaled breath are considered obtainable biomarkers of physiologic mechanisms. Therefore, obtaining their measures simply, non-invasively, and repeatedly, is of interest, and was the purpose of the current study.
Expired NO (ENO) and CO (ECO) were measured non-invasively using a gas micro-analyzer on several strains of mice (C57Bl6, IL-10-/-, A/J, MKK3-/-, JNK1-/-, NOS-2-/- and NOS-3-/-) with and without allergic airway inflammation (AI) induced by ovalbumin systemic sensitization and aerosol challenge, compared using independent-sample t-tests between groups, and repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) within groups over time of inflammation induction. ENO and ECO were also measured in C57Bl6 and IL-10-/- mice, ages 8–58 weeks old, the relationship of which was determined by regression analysis. S-methionyl-L-thiocitrulline (SMTC), and tin protoporphyrin (SnPP) were used to inhibit neuronal/constitutive NOS-1 and heme-oxygenase, respectively, and alter NO and CO production, respectively, as assessed by paired t-tests. Methacholine-associated airway responses (AR) were measured by the enhanced pause method, with comparisons by repeated measures ANOVA and post-hoc testing.
ENO was significantly elevated in naïve IL-10-/- (9–14 ppb) and NOS-2-/- (16 ppb) mice as compared to others (average: 5–8 ppb), whereas ECO was significantly higher in naïve A/J, NOS-3-/- (3–4 ppm), and MKK3-/- (4–5 ppm) mice, as compared to others (average: 2.5 ppm). As compared to C57Bl6 mice, AR of IL-10-/-, JNK1-/-, NOS-2-/-, and NOS-3-/- mice were decreased, whereas they were greater for A/J and MKK3-/- mice. SMTC significantly decreased ENO by ~30%, but did not change AR in NOS-2-/- mice. SnPP reduced ECO in C57Bl6 and IL-10-/- mice, and increased AR in NOS-2-/- mice. ENO decreased as a function of age in IL-10-/- mice, remaining unchanged in C57Bl6 mice.
These results are consistent with the ideas that: 1) ENO is associated with mouse strain and knockout differences in NO production and AR, 2) alterations of ENO and ECO can be measured non-invasively with induction of allergic AI or inhibition of key gas-producing enzymes, and 3) alterations in AR may be dependent on the relative balance of NO and CO in the airway.
Background: Severe asthma has been associated with severe exacerbations, lower lung function and greater tissue inflammation. Previous studies have suggested that mutations in interleukin-4 receptor α (IL4Rα) are associated with lower lung function, higher IgE, and a gain in receptor function. However, an effect on exacerbations and tissue inflammation has not been shown.
Hypothesis: Allelic substitutions in IL4Rα are associated with asthma exacerbations, lower lung function, and tissue inflammation, in particular to mast cells and IgE.
Methods: Two well-characterized cohorts of subjects with severe asthma were analyzed for five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL4Rα. These polymorphisms were compared with the history of severe asthma exacerbations and lung function. In the primary (National Jewish) cohort, these polymorphisms were also compared with endobronchial tissue inflammatory cells and local IgE.
Results: In both cohorts, the presence of the minor alleles at E375A and Q551R, which were more common in African Americans, was associated with a history of severe exacerbations and lower lung function. In the National Jewish cohort, the C allele at E375A was associated with higher tissue mast cells and higher levels of IgE bound to mast cells. The significance for most of these associations remained when whites (the larger racial subgroup) were analyzed separately.
Conclusions: SNPs in IL4Rα, which are more common in African Americans, are associated with severe asthma exacerbations, lower lung function, and increased mast cell–related tissue inflammation. Further studies of the impact of these mutations in African Americans and on receptor function are indicated.
asthma; genetics; IL4Rα; exacerbations; mast cells; IgE
Synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs) are inorganic noncrystalline materials widely used in residential and industrial settings for insulation, filtration, and reinforcement purposes. SVFs conventionally include three major categories: fibrous glass, rock/slag/stone (mineral) wool, and ceramic fibers. Previous in vitro studies from our laboratory demonstrated length-dependent cytotoxic effects of glass fibers on rat alveolar macrophages which were possibly associated with incomplete phagocytosis of fibers ≥ 17 μm in length. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of fiber length on primary human alveolar macrophages, which are larger in diameter than rat macrophages, using length-classified Manville Code 100 glass fibers (8, 10, 16, and 20 μm). It was hypothesized that complete engulfment of fibers by human alveolar macrophages could decrease fiber cytotoxicity; i.e. shorter fibers that can be completely engulfed might not be as cytotoxic as longer fibers. Human alveolar macrophages, obtained by segmental bronchoalveolar lavage of healthy, non-smoking volunteers, were treated with three different concentrations (determined by fiber number) of the sized fibers in vitro. Cytotoxicity was assessed by monitoring cytosolic lactate dehydrogenase release and loss of function as indicated by a decrease in zymosan-stimulated chemiluminescence.
Microscopic analysis indicated that human alveolar macrophages completely engulfed glass fibers of the 20 μm length. All fiber length fractions tested exhibited equal cytotoxicity on a per fiber basis, i.e. increasing lactate dehydrogenase and decreasing chemiluminescence in the same concentration-dependent fashion.
The data suggest that due to the larger diameter of human alveolar macrophages, compared to rat alveolar macrophages, complete phagocytosis of longer fibers can occur with the human cells. Neither incomplete phagocytosis nor length-dependent toxicity was observed in fiber-exposed human macrophage cultures. In contrast, rat macrophages exhibited both incomplete phagocytosis of long fibers and length-dependent toxicity. The results of the human and rat cell studies suggest that incomplete engulfment may enhance cytotoxicity of fiber glass. However, the possibility should not be ruled out that differences between human versus rat macrophages other than cell diameter could account for differences in fiber effects.