Chronic mucus hypersecretion (CMH) is associated with an increased frequency of respiratory infections, excess lung function decline, and increased hospitalisation and mortality rates in the general population. It is associated with smoking, but it is unknown why only a minority of smokers develops CMH. A plausible explanation for this phenomenon is a predisposing genetic constitution. Therefore, we performed a genome wide association (GWA) study of CMH in Caucasian populations.
GWA analysis was performed in the NELSON-study using the Illumina 610 array, followed by replication and meta-analysis in 11 additional cohorts. In total 2,704 subjects with, and 7,624 subjects without CMH were included, all current or former heavy smokers (≥20 pack-years). Additional studies were performed to test the functional relevance of the most significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
A strong association with CMH, consistent across all cohorts, was observed with rs6577641 (p = 4.25×10−6, OR = 1.17), located in intron 9 of the special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 1 locus (SATB1) on chromosome 3. The risk allele (G) was associated with higher mRNA expression of SATB1 (4.3×10−9) in lung tissue. Presence of CMH was associated with increased SATB1 mRNA expression in bronchial biopsies from COPD patients. SATB1 expression was induced during differentiation of primary human bronchial epithelial cells in culture.
Our findings, that SNP rs6577641 is associated with CMH in multiple cohorts and is a cis-eQTL for SATB1, together with our additional observation that SATB1 expression increases during epithelial differentiation provide suggestive evidence that SATB1 is a gene that affects CMH.
Asthma exacerbations are frequently triggered by rhinovirus infections. Both asthma and respiratory tract infection can activate haemostasis. Therefore we hypothesized that experimental rhinovirus-16 infection and asthmatic airway inflammation act in synergy on the haemostatic balance.
28 patients (14 patients with mild allergic asthma and 14 healthy non-allergic controls) were infected with low-dose rhinovirus type 16. Venous plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL fluid) were obtained before and 6 days after infection to evaluate markers of coagulation activation, thrombin-antithrombin complexes, von Willebrand factor, plasmin-antiplasmin complexes, plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1, endogenous thrombin potential and tissue factor-exposing microparticles by fibrin generation test, in plasma and/or BAL fluid. Data were analysed by nonparametric tests (Wilcoxon, Mann Whitney and Spearman correlation).
13 patients with mild asthma (6 females, 19-29 y) and 11 healthy controls (10 females, 19-31 y) had a documented Rhinovirus-16 infection. Rhinovirus-16 challenge resulted in a shortening of the fibrin generation test in BAL fluid of asthma patients (t = -1: 706 s vs. t = 6: 498 s; p = 0.02), but not of controls (t = -1: 693 s vs. t = 6: 636 s; p = 0.65). The fold change in tissue factor-exposing microparticles in BAL fluid inversely correlated with the fold changes in eosinophil cationic protein and myeloperoxidase in BAL fluid after virus infection (r = -0.517 and -0.528 resp., both p = 0.01).
Rhinovirus-16 challenge led to increased plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 levels in plasma in patients with asthma (26.0 ng/mL vs. 11.5 ng/mL in healthy controls, p = 0.04). Rhinovirus-16 load in BAL showed a linear correlation with the fold change in endogenous thrombin potential, plasmin-antiplasmin complexes and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1.
Experimental rhinovirus infection induces procoagulant changes in the airways of patients with asthma through increased activity of tissue factor-exposing microparticles. These microparticle-associated procoagulant changes are associated with both neutrophilic and eosinophilic inflammation. Systemic activation of haemostasis increases with Rhinoviral load.
This trial was registered at the Dutch trial registry (http://www.trialregister.nl): NTR1677.
Rhinovirus; Coagulation; Fibrinolysis; Asthma; Microparticles; Inflammation
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) reduce exacerbation rates and improve health status but can increase the risk of pneumonia in COPD. The GLUCOLD study, investigating patients with mild-to-moderate COPD, has shown that long-term (2.5-year) ICS therapy induces anti-inflammatory effects. The literature suggests that cigarette smoking causes ICS insensitivity. The aim of this study is to compare anti-inflammatory effects of ICS in persistent smokers and persistent ex-smokers in a post-hoc analysis of the GLUCOLD study.
Persistent smokers (n = 41) and persistent ex-smokers (n = 31) from the GLUCOLD cohort were investigated. Effects of ICS treatment compared with placebo were estimated by analysing changes in lung function, hyperresponsiveness, and inflammatory cells in sputum and bronchial biopsies during short-term (0–6 months) and long-term (6–30 months) treatment using multiple regression analyses.
Bronchial mast cells were reduced by short-term and long-term ICS treatment in both smokers and ex-smokers. In contrast, CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells were reduced by short-term ICS treatment in smokers only. In addition, sputum neutrophils and lymphocytes, and bronchial CD8+ cells were reduced after long-term treatment in ex-smokers only. No significant interactions existed between smoking and ICS treatment.
Even in the presence of smoking, long-term ICS treatment may lead to anti-inflammatory effects in the lung. Some anti-inflammatory ICS effects are comparable in smokers and ex-smokers with COPD, other effects are cell-specific. The clinical relevance of these findings, however, are uncertain.
Rhinovirus infections are the most common cause of asthma exacerbations. The complex responses by airway epithelium to rhinovirus can be captured by gene expression profiling. We hypothesized that: a) upper and lower airway epithelium exhibit differential responses to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), and b) that this is modulated by the presence of asthma and allergic rhinitis.
Identification of dsRNA-induced gene expression profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from the same individuals and examining the impact of allergic rhinitis with and without concomitant allergic asthma on expression profiles.
This study had a cross-sectional design including 18 subjects: 6 patients with allergic asthma with concomitant rhinitis, 6 patients with allergic rhinitis, and 6 healthy controls. Comparing 6 subjects per group, the estimated false discovery rate was approximately 5%. RNA was extracted from isolated and cultured primary epithelial cells from nasal biopsies and bronchial brushings stimulated with dsRNA (poly(I:C)), and analyzed by microarray (Affymetrix U133+ PM Genechip Array). Data were analysed using R and the Bioconductor Limma package. Overrepresentation of gene ontology groups were captured by GeneSpring GX12.
In total, 17 subjects completed the study successfully (6 allergic asthma with rhinitis, 5 allergic rhinitis, 6 healthy controls). dsRNA-stimulated upper and lower airway epithelium from asthma patients demonstrated significantly fewer induced genes, exhibiting reduced down-regulation of mitochondrial genes. The majority of genes related to viral responses appeared to be similarly induced in upper and lower airways in all groups. However, the induction of several interferon-related genes (IRF3, IFNAR1, IFNB1, IFNGR1, IL28B) was impaired in patients with asthma.
dsRNA differentially changes transcriptional profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from patients with allergic rhinitis with or without asthma and controls. Our data suggest that respiratory viruses affect mitochondrial genes, and we identified disease-specific genes that provide potential targets for drug development.
Asthma; Rhinitis; Epithelium; Gene expression; dsRNA
The link between upper and lower airways in patients with both asthma and allergic rhinitis is still poorly understood. As the biological complexity of these disorders can be captured by gene expression profiling we hypothesized that the clinical expression of rhinitis and/or asthma is related to differential gene expression between upper and lower airways epithelium.
Defining gene expression profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from the same individuals and examining the impact of allergic rhinitis with and without concomitant allergic asthma on expression profiles.
This cross-sectional study included 18 subjects (6 allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis; 6 allergic rhinitis; 6 healthy controls). The estimated false discovery rate comparing 6 subjects per group was approximately 5%. RNA was extracted from isolated and cultured epithelial cells from bronchial brushings and nasal biopsies, and analyzed by microarray (Affymetrix U133+ PM Genechip Array). Data were analysed using R and Bioconductor Limma package. For gene ontology GeneSpring GX12 was used.
The study was successfully completed by 17 subjects (6 allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis; 5 allergic rhinitis; 6 healthy controls). Using correction for multiple testing, 1988 genes were differentially expressed between healthy lower and upper airway epithelium, whereas in allergic rhinitis with or without asthma this was only 40 and 301 genes, respectively. Genes influenced by allergic rhinitis with or without asthma were linked to lung development, remodeling, regulation of peptidases and normal epithelial barrier functions.
Differences in epithelial gene expression between the upper and lower airway epithelium, as observed in healthy subjects, largely disappear in patients with allergic rhinitis with or without asthma, whilst new differences emerge. The present data identify several pathways and genes that might be potential targets for future drug development.
Although the high mortality rate of pulmonary invasive aspergillosis (IA) in patients with prolonged chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (PCIN) can be reduced by timely diagnosis, a diagnostic test that reliably detects IA at an early stage is lacking. We hypothesized that an electronic nose (eNose) could fulfill this need. An eNose can discriminate various lung diseases through the analysis of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). An eNose is cheap and noninvasive and yields results within minutes. In a single-center prospective cohort study, we included patients who were treated with chemotherapy expected to result in PCIN. Based on standardized indications, a full diagnostic workup was performed to confirm invasive aspergillosis or to rule it out. Patients with no aspergillosis were considered controls, and patients with probable or proven aspergillosis were considered index cases. Exhaled breath was examined with a Cyranose 320 (Smith Detections, Pasadena, CA). The resulting data were analyzed using principal component reduction. The primary endpoint was cross-validated diagnostic accuracy, defined as the percentage of patients correctly classified using the leave-one-out method. Accuracy was validated by 100,000 random classifications. We included 46 subjects who underwent 16 diagnostic workups, resulting in 6 cases and 5 controls. The cross-validated accuracy of the eNose in diagnosing IA was 90.9% (P = 0.022; sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 83.3%). Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed an area under the curve of 0.93. These preliminary data indicate that PCIN patients with IA have a distinct exhaled VOC profile that can be detected with eNose technology. The diagnostic accuracy of the eNose for invasive aspergillosis warrants validation.
Metagenomics is a relatively recently established but rapidly expanding field that uses high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies to characterize the microbial communities inhabiting different ecosystems (including oceans, lakes, soil, tundra, plants and body sites). Metagenomics brings with it a number of challenges, including the management, analysis, storage and sharing of data. In response to these challenges, we have developed a new metagenomics resource (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/metagenomics/) that allows users to easily submit raw nucleotide reads for functional and taxonomic analysis by a state-of-the-art pipeline, and have them automatically stored (together with descriptive, standards-compliant metadata) in the European Nucleotide Archive.
Airway inflammation in asthma involves innate immune responses. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) are thought to be involved in airway inflammation, but their expression in asthmatics’ both large and small airways has not been investigated.
To analyze the expression of TLR2, TLR3, TLR4 and TSLP in large and small airways of asthmatics and compare their expression in smoking and nonsmoking asthmatics; to investigate whether TLR expression is associated with eosinophilic or neutrophilic airway inflammation and with Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection.
Using immunohistochemistry and image analysis, we investigated TLR2, TLR3, TLR4 and TSLP expression in large and small airways of 24 victims of fatal asthma, FA, (13 nonsmokers, 11 smokers) and 9 deceased control subjects (DCtrl). TLRs were also measured in 18 mild asthmatics (MA) and 12 healthy controls (HCtrl). Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pneumoniae in autopsy lung tissue was analyzed using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Airway eosinophils and neutrophils were measured in all subjects.
Fatal asthma patients had higher TLR2 in the epithelial and outer layers of large and small airways compared with DCtrls. Smoking asthmatics had lower TLR2 levels in the inner and outer layers of the small airways than nonsmoking asthmatics. TSLP was increased in the epithelial and outer layers of the large airways of FA. FA patients had greater TLR3 expression in the outer layer of large airways and greater TLR4 expression in the outer layer of small airways. Eosinophilic airway inflammation was associated with TLR expression in the epithelium of FA. No bacterial DNA was detected in FA or DCtrls. MA and HCtrls had only a small difference in TLR3 expression.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
Increased expression of TLR 2, 3 and 4 and TSLP in fatal asthma may contribute to the acute inflammation surrounding asthma deaths.
lung; innate immunity; immunohistochemistry
The diagnosis of childhood asthma covers a broad spectrum of pathological mechanisms that can lead to similarly presenting clinical symptoms, but may nonetheless require different treatment approaches. Distinct underlying inflammatory patterns are thought to influence responsiveness to standard asthma medication.
The purpose of the PACMAN2 study is to identify inflammatory phenotypes that can discriminate uncontrolled childhood asthma from controlled childhood asthma by measures in peripheral blood and exhaled air. PACMAN2 is a nested, case–control follow-up study to the ongoing pharmacy-based “Pharmacogenetics of Asthma medication in Children: Medication with Anti-inflammatory effects” (PACMAN) study. The original PACMAN cohort consists of children aged 4–12 years with reported use of asthma medication. The PACMAN2 study will be conducted within the larger PACMAN cohort, and will focus on detailed phenotyping of a subset of the PACMAN children. The selected participants will be invited to a follow-up visit in a clinical setting at least six months after their baseline visit based on their adherence to usage of inhaled corticosteroids, their asthma symptoms in the past year, and their age (≥ 8 years). During the follow-up visit, current and long-term asthma symptoms, medication use, environmental factors, medication adherence and levels of exhaled nitric oxide will be reassessed. The following measures will also be examined: pulmonary function, exhaled volatile organic compounds, as well as inflammatory markers in peripheral blood and blood plasma. Comparative analysis and cluster-analyses will be used to identify markers that differentiate children with uncontrolled asthma despite their use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) (cases) from children whose asthma is controlled by the use of ICS (controls).
Asthmatic children with distinct inflammatory phenotypes may respond differently to anti-inflammatory therapy. Therefore, by identifying inflammatory phenotypes in children with the PACMAN2 study, we may greatly impact future personalised treatment strategies, uncover new leads for therapeutic targets and improve the design of future clinical studies in the assessment of the efficacy of novel therapeutics.
Asthma; Child; Phenotypes; Inflammation; Proteomics; Volatile organic compounds; Corticosteroids
Ideally, invading bacteria are detected as early as possible in critically ill patients: the strain of morbific pathogens is identified rapidly, and antimicrobial sensitivity is known well before the start of new antimicrobial therapy. Bacteria have a distinct metabolism, part of which results in the production of bacteria-specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which might be used for diagnostic purposes. Volatile metabolites can be investigated directly in exhaled air, allowing for noninvasive monitoring. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of VOCs produced by the six most abundant and pathogenic bacteria in sepsis, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli. Such VOCs could be used as biological markers in the diagnostic approach of critically ill patients. A systematic review of existing literature revealed 31 articles. All six bacteria of interest produce isopentanol, formaldehyde, methyl mercaptan, and trimethylamine. Since humans do not produce these VOCs, they could serve as biological markers for presence of these pathogens. The following volatile biomarkers were found for identification of specific strains: isovaleric acid and 2-methyl-butanal for Staphylococcus aureus; 1-undecene, 2,4-dimethyl-1-heptane, 2-butanone, 4-methyl-quinazoline, hydrogen cyanide, and methyl thiocyanide for Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and methanol, pentanol, ethyl acetate, and indole for Escherichia coli. Notably, several factors that may effect VOC production were not controlled for, including used culture media, bacterial growth phase, and genomic variation within bacterial strains. In conclusion, VOCs produced by bacteria may serve as biological markers for their presence. Goal-targeted studies should be performed to identify potential sets of volatile biological markers and evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of these markers in critically ill patients.
Smoking and inflammation contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which involves changes in extracellular matrix. This is thought to contribute to airway remodeling and airflow obstruction. We have previously observed that long-term treatment with inhaled corticosteroids can not only reduce bronchial inflammation, but can also attenuate lung function decline in moderate-severe COPD. We hypothesized that inhaled corticosteroids and current smoking modulate bronchial extracellular matrix components in COPD.
To compare major extracellular matrix components (elastic fibers; proteoglycans [versican, decorin]; collagens type I and III) in bronchial biopsies 1) after 30-months inhaled steroids treatment or placebo; and 2) between current and ex-smokers with COPD.
We included 64 moderate-severe, steroid-naive COPD patients (24/40 (ex)-smokers, 62±7 years, 46 (31–54) packyears, post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 62±9% predicted) at baseline in this randomized, controlled trial. 19 and 13 patients received 30-months treatment with fluticasone or placebo, respectively. Bronchial biopsies collected at baseline and after 30 months were studied using (immuno)histochemistry to evaluate extracellular matrix content. Percentage and density of stained area were calculated by digital image analysis.
30-Months inhaled steroids increased the percentage stained area of versican (9.6% [CI 0.9 to 18.3%]; p = 0.03) and collagen III (20.6% [CI 3.8 to 37.4%]; p = 0.02) compared to placebo. Increased collagen I staining density correlated with increased post-bronchodilator FEV1 after inhaled steroids treatment (Rs = 0.45, p = 0.04). There were no differences between smokers and ex-smokers with COPD in percentages and densities for all extracellular matrix proteins.
These data show that long-term inhaled corticosteroids treatment partially changes the composition of extracellular matrix in moderate-severe COPD. This is associated with increased lung function, suggesting that long-term inhaled steroids modulate airway remodeling thereby potentially preventing airway collapse in COPD. Smoking status is not associated with bronchial extracellular matrix proteins.
The aim of this study was to assess cross-sectional and longitudinal correlations between uEPX and other markers of asthma control and eosinophilic airway inflammation. Methods. We measured uEPX at baseline, after 1 year and after 2 years in 205 atopic asthmatic children using inhaled fluticasone. At the same time points, we assessed symptom scores (2 weeks diary card), lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)), airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and percentage eosinophils in induced sputum (% eos). Results. We found negative correlations between uEPX and FEV1 at baseline (r = −0.18, P = 0.01), after 1 year (r = −0.25, P < 0.01) and after 2 years (r = −0.21, P = 0.02). Within-patient changes of uEPX showed a negative association with FEV1 changes (at 1 year: r = −0.24, P = 0.01; at 2 years: r = −0.21, P = 0.03). Within-patient changes from baseline of uEPX correlated with changes in % eos. No relations were found between uEPX and symptoms. Conclusion. In this population of children with atopic asthma, uEPX correlated with FEV1 and % eos, and within-subjects changes in uEPX correlated with changes in FEV1 and % eos. As the associations were weak and the scatter of uEPX wide, it seems unlikely that uEPX will be useful as a biomarker for monitoring asthma control in the individual child.
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Genomic Standards Consortium convened a joint workshop at the University of Oxford, 27-29 February 2012, with a small group of experts from Europe, USA, China and Japan, to continue the alignment of the Darwin Core with the MIxS and related genomics standards. Several reference mappings were produced as well as test expressions of MIxS in RDF. The use and management of controlled vocabulary terms was considered in relation to both GBIF and the GSC, and tools for working with terms were reviewed. Extensions for publishing genomic biodiversity data to the GBIF network via a Darwin Core Archive were prototyped and work begun on preparing translations of the Darwin Core to Japanese and Chinese. Five genomic repositories were identified for engagement to begin the process of testing the publishing of genomic data to the GBIF network commencing with the SILVA rRNA database.
Publication bias jeopardizes evidence-based medicine, mainly through biased literature syntheses. Publication bias may also affect laboratory animal research, but evidence is scarce.
To assess the opinion of laboratory animal researchers on the magnitude, drivers, consequences and potential solutions for publication bias. And to explore the impact of size of the animals used, seniority of the respondent, working in a for-profit organization and type of research (fundamental, pre-clinical, or both) on those opinions.
All animal laboratories in The Netherlands.
Laboratory animal researchers.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Median (interquartile ranges) strengths of beliefs on 5 and 10-point scales (1: totally unimportant to 5 or 10: extremely important).
Overall, 454 researchers participated. They considered publication bias a problem in animal research (7 (5 to 8)) and thought that about 50% (32–70) of animal experiments are published. Employees (n = 21) of for-profit organizations estimated that 10% (5 to 50) are published. Lack of statistical significance (4 (4 to 5)), technical problems (4 (3 to 4)), supervisors (4 (3 to 5)) and peer reviewers (4 (3 to 5)) were considered important reasons for non-publication (all on 5-point scales). Respondents thought that mandatory publication of study protocols and results, or the reasons why no results were obtained, may increase scientific progress but expected increased bureaucracy. These opinions did not depend on size of the animal used, seniority of the respondent or type of research.
Non-publication of “negative” results appears to be prevalent in laboratory animal research. If statistical significance is indeed a main driver of publication, the collective literature on animal experimentation will be biased. This will impede the performance of valid literature syntheses. Effective, yet efficient systems should be explored to counteract selective reporting of laboratory animal research.
Variability in the extent of the descriptions of data (‘metadata’) held in public repositories forces users to assess the quality of records individually, which rapidly becomes impractical. The scoring of records on the richness of their description provides a simple, objective proxy measure for quality that enables filtering that supports downstream analysis. Pivotally, such descriptions should spur on improvements. Here, we introduce such a measure - the ‘Metadata Coverage Index’ (MCI): the percentage of available fields actually filled in a record or description. MCI scores can be calculated across a database, for individual records or for their component parts (e.g., fields of interest). There are many potential uses for this simple metric: for example; to filter, rank or search for records; to assess the metadata availability of an ad hoc collection; to determine the frequency with which fields in a particular record type are filled, especially with respect to standards compliance; to assess the utility of specific tools and resources, and of data capture practice more generally; to prioritize records for further curation; to serve as performance metrics of funded projects; or to quantify the value added by curation. Here we demonstrate the utility of MCI scores using metadata from the Genomes Online Database (GOLD), including records compliant with the ‘Minimum Information about a Genome Sequence’ (MIGS) standard developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium. We discuss challenges and address the further application of MCI scores; to show improvements in annotation quality over time, to inform the work of standards bodies and repository providers on the usability and popularity of their products, and to assess and credit the work of curators. Such an index provides a step towards putting metadata capture practices and in the future, standards compliance, into a quantitative and objective framework.
Here we present a standard developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) for reporting marker gene sequences—the minimum information about a marker gene sequence (MIMARKS). We also introduce a system for describing the environment from which a biological sample originates. The ‘environmental packages’ apply to any genome sequence of known origin and can be used in combination with MIMARKS and other GSC checklists. Finally, to establish a unified standard for describing sequence data and to provide a single point of entry for the scientific community to access and learn about GSC checklists, we present the minimum information about any (x) sequence (MIxS). Adoption of MIxS will enhance our ability to analyze natural genetic diversity documented by massive DNA sequencing efforts from myriad ecosystems in our ever-changing biosphere.
This report details the outcome of the 13th Meeting of the Genomic Standards Consortium. The three-day conference was held at the Kingkey Palace Hotel, Shenzhen, China, on March 5–7, 2012, and was hosted by the Beijing Genomics Institute. The meeting, titled From Genomes to Interactions to Communities to Models, highlighted the role of data standards associated with genomic, metagenomic, and amplicon sequence data and the contextual information associated with the sample. To this end the meeting focused on genomic projects for animals, plants, fungi, and viruses; metagenomic studies in host-microbe interactions; and the dynamics of microbial communities. In addition, the meeting hosted a Genomic Observatories Network session, a Genomic Standards Consortium biodiversity working group session, and a Microbiology of the Built Environment session sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Genomic Standards Consortium; microbiome; microbial metagenomics; fungal genomics; viral genomics; Genomic Observatories Network
Despite the availability of effective therapies, asthma remains a source of significant morbidity and use of health care resources. The central research question of the ACCURATE trial is whether maximal doses of (combination) therapy should be used for long periods in an attempt to achieve complete control of all features of asthma. An additional question is whether patients and society value the potential incremental benefit, if any, sufficiently to concur with such a treatment approach. We assessed patient preferences and cost-effectiveness of three treatment strategies aimed at achieving different levels of clinical control:
1. sufficiently controlled asthma
2. strictly controlled asthma
3. strictly controlled asthma based on exhaled nitric oxide as an additional disease marker
720 Patients with mild to moderate persistent asthma from general practices with a practice nurse, age 18-50 yr, daily treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (more then 3 months usage of inhaled corticosteroids in the previous year), will be identified via patient registries of general practices in the Leiden, Nijmegen, and Amsterdam areas in The Netherlands. The design is a 12-month cluster-randomised parallel trial with 40 general practices in each of the three arms. The patients will visit the general practice at baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. At each planned and unplanned visit to the general practice treatment will be adjusted with support of an internet-based asthma monitoring system supervised by a central coordinating specialist nurse. Patient preferences and utilities will be assessed by questionnaire and interview. Data on asthma control, treatment step, adherence to treatment, utilities and costs will be obtained every 3 months and at each unplanned visit. Differences in societal costs (medication, other (health) care and productivity) will be compared to differences in the number of limited activity days and in quality adjusted life years (Dutch EQ5D, SF6D, e-TTO, VAS). This is the first study to assess patient preferences and cost-effectiveness of asthma treatment strategies driven by different target levels of asthma control.
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR1756
Effectiveness of Internet-based self-management in patients with asthma has been shown, but its cost-effectiveness is unknown. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis of Internet-based asthma self-management compared with usual care.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Cost-effectiveness analysis alongside a randomized controlled trial, with 12 months follow-up. Patients were aged 18 to 50 year and had physician diagnosed asthma. The Internet-based self-management program involved weekly on-line monitoring of asthma control with self-treatment advice, remote Web communications, and Internet-based information. We determined quality adjusted life years (QALYs) as measured by the EuroQol-5D and costs for health care use and absenteeism. We performed a detailed cost price analysis for the primary intervention. QALYs did not statistically significantly differ between the Internet group and usual care: difference 0.024 (95% CI, −0.016 to 0.065). Costs of the Internet-based intervention were $254 (95% CI, $243 to $265) during the period of 1 year. From a societal perspective, the cost difference was $641 (95% CI, $−1957 to $3240). From a health care perspective, the cost difference was $37 (95% CI, $−874 to $950). At a willingness-to-pay of $50000 per QALY, the probability that Internet-based self-management was cost-effective compared to usual care was 62% and 82% from a societal and health care perspective, respectively.
Internet-based self-management of asthma can be as effective as current asthma care and costs are similar.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN79864465
We propose an innovative, integrated, cost-effective health system to combat major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular, chronic respiratory, metabolic, rheumatologic and neurologic disorders and cancers, which together are the predominant health problem of the 21st century. This proposed holistic strategy involves comprehensive patient-centered integrated care and multi-scale, multi-modal and multi-level systems approaches to tackle NCDs as a common group of diseases. Rather than studying each disease individually, it will take into account their intertwined gene-environment, socio-economic interactions and co-morbidities that lead to individual-specific complex phenotypes. It will implement a road map for predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory (P4) medicine based on a robust and extensive knowledge management infrastructure that contains individual patient information. It will be supported by strategic partnerships involving all stakeholders, including general practitioners associated with patient-centered care. This systems medicine strategy, which will take a holistic approach to disease, is designed to allow the results to be used globally, taking into account the needs and specificities of local economies and health systems.
Airway remodelling is a feature of asthma including fragmentation of elastic fibres observed in the superficial elastin network of the airway wall. Fibered confocal fluorescence microscopy (FCFM) is a new and non-invasive imaging technique performed during bronchoscopy that may visualize elastic fibres, as shown by in vitro spectral analysis of elastin powder. We hypothesized that FCFM images capture in vivo elastic fibre patterns within the airway wall and that such patterns correspond with airway histology. We aimed to establish the concordance between the bronchial elastic fibre pattern in histology and FCFM. Second, we examined whether elastic fibre patterns in histology and FCFM were different between asthmatic subjects and healthy controls. Finally, the association between these patterns and lung function parameters was investigated.
In a cross-sectional study comprising 16 subjects (8 atopic asthmatic patients with controlled disease and 8 healthy controls) spirometry and bronchoscopy were performed, with recording of FCFM images followed by endobronchial biopsy at the airway main carina. Elastic fibre patterns in histological sections and FCFM images were scored semi-quantitatively. Agreement between histology and FCFM was analysed using linearly weighted kappa κw.
The patterns observed in histological sections and FCFM images could be divided into 3 distinct groups. There was good agreement between elastic fibre patterns in histology and FCFM patterns (κw 0.744). The semi-quantitative pattern scores were not different between asthmatic patients and controls. Notably, there was a significant difference in post-bronchodilator FEV1 %predicted between the different patterns by histology (p = 0.001) and FCFM (p = 0.048), regardless of asthma or atopy.
FCFM captures the elastic fibre pattern within the airway wall in humans in vivo. The association between post-bronchodilator FEV1 %predicted and both histological and FCFM elastic fibre patterns points towards a structure-function relationship between extracellular matrix in the airway wall and lung function.
Netherlands Trial Register NTR1306
Asthma; Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy; Extracellular Matrix; Respiratory Function Tests; Smooth muscle
A vast and rich body of information has grown up as a result of the world's enthusiasm for 'omics technologies. Finding ways to describe and make available this information that maximise its usefulness has become a major effort across the 'omics world. At the heart of this effort is the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), an open-membership organization that drives community-based standardization activities, Here we provide a short history of the GSC, provide an overview of its range of current activities, and make a call for the scientific community to join forces to improve the quality and quantity of contextual information about our public collections of genomes, metagenomes, and marker gene sequences.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the structure mapping working group meeting of the RNA Ontology Consortium (ROC), held in Kona, Hawaii on January 8-9, 2011. The ROC hosted this workshop to facilitate collaborations among those researchers formalizing concepts in RNA, those developing RNA-related software, and those performing genome annotation and standardization. The workshop included three software presentations, extended round-table discussions, and the constitution of two new working groups, the first to address the need for better software integration and the second to discuss standardization and benchmarking of existing RNA annotation pipelines. These working groups have subsequently pursued concrete implementation of actions suggested during the discussion. Further information about the ROC and its activities can be found at http://roc.bgsu.edu/.
In the future, we hope to see an open and thriving data market in which users can find and select data from a wide range of data providers. In such an open access market, data are products that must be packaged accordingly. Increasingly, eCommerce sellers present heterogeneous product lines to buyers using faceted browsing. Using this approach we have developed the Ontogrator platform, which allows for rapid retrieval of data in a way that would be familiar to any online shopper. Using Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS), especially ontologies, Ontogrator uses text mining to mark up data and faceted browsing to help users navigate, query and retrieve data. Ontogrator offers the potential to impact scientific research in two major ways: 1) by significantly improving the retrieval of relevant information; and 2) by significantly reducing the time required to compose standard database queries and assemble information for further research. Here we present a pilot implementation developed in collaboration with the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) that includes content from the StrainInfo, GOLD, CAMERA, Silva and Pubmed databases. This implementation demonstrates the power of ontogration and highlights that the usefulness of this approach is fully dependent on both the quality of data and the KOS (ontologies) used. Ideally, the use and further expansion of this collaborative system will help to surface issues associated with the underlying quality of annotation and could lead to a systematic means for accessing integrated data resources.