Despite the high prevalence of respiratory symptoms and obstructive lung disease in HIV-infected persons, the prevalence of bronchodilator reversibility (BDR) and asthma has not been systematically studied during the era of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART).
To determine the prevalence of asthma diagnosis and related pulmonary function abnormalities in an HIV-infected cohort and to identify potential mechanisms.
A cross-sectional analysis of 223 HIV-infected individuals with data on respiratory symptoms and diagnoses, pulmonary function, sputum cell counts, and asthma-related cytokines and chemokines in serum/sputum.
Doctor-diagnosed asthma was present in 46 (20.6%) and BDR (≥200ml and ≥12% increase in FEV1 or FVC) in 20 participants (9.0%). Pulmonary symptoms and function were worse in those with doctor-diagnosed asthma. Doctor-diagnosed asthma was independently associated with female sex (p=0.04), body mass index >29.6kg/m2 (vs.<29.6kg/m2) (p=0.03), history of bacterial or Pneumocystis pneumonia (p=0.01), and with not currently taking ART (p=0.04), and in univariate analysis with parental history of asthma (n=180; p=0.004). High sputum eosinophil percentages (>2.3% based on the highest decile) were more likely in those with doctor-diagnosed asthma (p=0.02) or BDR (p=0.02). Doctor-diagnosed asthma tended to be more common with high sputum IL-4 (p=0.02) and RANTES (p=0.02), while BDR was associated with high plasma macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α (p=0.002), and sputum MIP-1β levels (p=0.001).
Asthma diagnosis and BDR are prevalent in an HIV-infected outpatient cohort, and associations with family history, obesity, allergic inflammation, prior infection, the absence of ART, and elevated HIV-stimulated cytokines suggest possible mechanisms of HIV-associated asthma.
HIV; asthma; airway obstruction; allergy
Primary human distal lung/parenchymal fibroblasts (DLFs) exhibit a different phenotype from airway fibroblasts (AFs), including the expression of high levels of α–smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). The scope of the differences between these anatomically differentiated fibroblasts, or the mechanisms driving them, has remained unknown. To determine whether the different characteristics of regional fibroblasts are predicted by distinct genomic differences in AFs versus DLFs, matched human fibroblast pairs were isolated from proximal and distal lung tissue and evaluated. Microarray analysis was performed on 12 matched fibroblast pairs (four normal and eight asthmatic samples) and validated by quantitative real-time PCR. The potential functional implications of these differences were analyzed using computational approaches. Four hundred seventy-four transcripts were up-regulated in AFs, and 611 were up-regulated in DLFs via microarray analysis. No differences in normal and asthmatic fibroblasts were evident, and the data were combined for subsequent analyses. Gene ontology and network analyses suggested distinct patterns of pathway activation between AFs and DLFs. The up-regulation of extracellular matrix–associated molecules in AFs was observed, whereas genes associated with actin binding and cytoskeletal organization were up-regulated in DLFs. The up-regulation of activated/total SMAD3 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase in DLFs may partly explain these myofibroblast-like characteristics in DLFs. Thus, marked genomic differences exist between these two populations of regional lung fibroblasts. These striking differences may help identify potential mechanisms by which AFs and DLFs differ in their responses to injury, regeneration, and remodeling in the lung.
human lung fibroblasts; α–smooth muscle actin; microarray; SMAD; JNK; MAPK8
Secreted phospholipase A2s (sPLA2) may be important mediators of asthma, but the specific sPLA2s involved in asthma are not known.
To evaluate sPLA2 group IIA, V, and X proteins (sPLA2-IIA, sPLA2-V and sPLA2-X) in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, BAL cells and airway epithelial cells of subjects with and without asthma, and examine the relationship between the levels of specific sPLA2 enzymes and airway inflammation, asthma severity, and lung function.
The expression of sPLA2-IIA, sPLA2-V and sPLA2-X in BAL cells and epithelial brushings was assessed by qPCR. The levels of these sPLA2 proteins and sPLA2 activity with and without group II and group X-specific inhibitors were measured in BAL fluid from 18 controls and 39 asthmatics.
The airway epithelium expressed sPLA2-X at higher levels than either sPLA2-IIA or sPLA2-V, whereas BAL cells expressed sPLA2-IIA and sPLA2-X at similar levels. The majority of sPLA2 activity in BAL fluid was attributed to either sPLA2-IIA or sPLA2-X. After 10-fold concentration of BAL fluid, the levels of sPLA2-X normalized to total protein were increased in asthma and were associated with lung function, the concentration of induced sputum neutrophils, and prostaglandin E2. The levels of sPLA2-IIA were elevated in asthma when normalized to total protein, but where not related to lung function, markers of airway inflammation or eicosanoid formation.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
These data indicate that sPLA2-IIA and sPLA2-X are the major sPLA2s in human airways, and suggest a link between the levels of sPLA2-X in the airways and several features of asthma.
Asthma; Eicosanoid; Epithelial Cell; Leukotriene; Phospholipase
Rationale: Severe asthma (SA) remains poorly understood. Mast cells (MC) are implicated in asthma pathogenesis, but it remains unknown how their phenotype, location, and activation relate to asthma severity.
Objectives: To compare MC-related markers measured in bronchoscopically obtained samples with clinically relevant parameters between normal subjects and subjects with asthma to clarify their pathobiologic importance.
Methods: Endobronchial biopsies, epithelial brushings, and bronchoalveolar lavage were obtained from subjects with asthma and normal subjects from the Severe Asthma Research Program (N = 199). Tryptase, chymase, and carboxypeptidase A (CPA)3 were used to identify total MC (MCTot) and the MCTC subset (MCs positive for both tryptase and chymase) using immunostaining and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Lavage was analyzed for tryptase and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) by ELISA.
Measurements and Main Results: Submucosal MCTot (tryptase-positive by immunostaining) numbers were highest in “mild asthma/no inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy” subjects and decreased with greater asthma severity (P = 0.002). In contrast, MCTC (chymase-positive by immunostaining) were the predominant (MCTC/MCTot > 50%) MC phenotype in SA (overall P = 0.005). Epithelial MCTot were also highest in mild asthma/no ICS, but were not lower in SA. Instead, they persisted and were predominantly MCTC. Epithelial CPA3 and tryptase mRNA supported the immunostaining data (overall P = 0.008 and P = 0.02, respectively). Lavage PGD2 was higher in SA than in other steroid-treated groups (overall P = 0.02), whereas tryptase did not differentiate the groups. In statistical models, PGD2 and MCTC/MCTot predicted SA.
Conclusions: Severe asthma is associated with a predominance of MCTC in the airway submucosa and epithelium. Activation of those MCTC may contribute to the increases in PGD2 levels. The data suggest an altered and active MC population contributes to SA pathology.
prostaglandin D2; chymase; carboxypeptidase A
Asthma in children is a heterogeneous disorder with many phenotypes. Although unsupervised cluster analysis is a useful tool for identifying phenotypes, it has not been applied to school-age children with persistent asthma across a wide range of severities.
This study determined how children with severe asthma are distributed across a cluster analysis and how well these clusters conform to current definitions of asthma severity.
Cluster analysis was applied to 12 continuous and composite variables from 161 children at 5 centers enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP).
Four clusters of asthma were identified. Children in Cluster 1 (n = 48) had relatively normal lung function and less atopy, while children in Cluster 2 (n = 52) had slightly lower lung function, more atopy, and increased symptoms and medication usage. Cluster 3 (n = 32) had greater co-morbidity, increased bronchial responsiveness and lower lung function. Cluster 4 (n = 29) had the lowest lung function and the greatest symptoms and medication usage. Predictors of cluster assignment were asthma duration, the number of asthma controller medications, and baseline lung function. Children with severe asthma were present in all clusters, and no cluster corresponded to definitions of asthma severity provided in asthma treatment guidelines.
Severe asthma in children is highly heterogeneous. Unique phenotypic clusters previously identified in adults can also be identified in children, but with important differences. Larger validation and longitudinal studies are needed to determine the baseline and predictive validity of these phenotypic clusters in the larger clinical setting.
Allergic sensitization; Asthma; Severe asthma; Asthma guidelines; Children; Cluster analysis; Lung function; Phenotype
Rationale: Before the introduction of combination antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, patients infected with HIV had an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms and lung function abnormalities. The prevalence and exact phenotype of pulmonary abnormalities in the current era are unknown. In addition, these abnormalities may be underdiagnosed.
Objectives: Our objective was to determine the current burden of respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function abnormalities, and associated risk factors in individuals infected with HIV.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of 167 participants infected with HIV who underwent pulmonary function testing.
Measurements and Main Results: Respiratory symptoms were present in 47.3% of participants and associated with intravenous drug use (odds ratio [OR] 3.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32–10.046; P = 0.01). Only 15% had previous pulmonary testing. Pulmonary function abnormalities were common with 64.1% of participants having diffusion impairment and 21% having irreversible airway obstruction. Diffusion impairment was independently associated with ever smoking (OR 2.46; 95% CI, 1.16–5.21; P = 0.02) and Pneumocystis pneumonia prophylaxis (OR 2.94; 95% CI, 1.10–7.86; P = 0.01), whereas irreversible airway obstruction was independently associated with pack-years smoked (OR 1.03 per pack-year; 95% CI, 1.01–1.05; P < 0.01), intravenous drug use (OR 2.87; 95% CI, 1.15–7.09; P = 0.02), and the use of ARV therapy (OR 6.22; 95% CI, 1.19–32.43; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function abnormalities remain common in individuals infected with HIV. Smoking and intravenous drug use are still important risk factors for pulmonary abnormalities, but ARV may be a novel risk factor for irreversible airway obstruction. Obstructive lung disease is likely underdiagnosed in this population.
HIV; respiratory function tests; smoking; antiretroviral therapy, highly active; AIDS
In humans, environmental exposure to a high dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) protects from allergic asthma the immunological underpinnings of which are not well understood. In mice, exposure to a high LPS dose blunted house dust mite-induced airway eosinophilia and Th2 cytokine production. While adoptively transferred Th2 cells induced allergic airway inflammation in control mice, they were unable to do so in LPS-exposed mice. LPS promoted the development of a CD11b+Gr1intF4/80+ lung-resident cell resembling myeloid-derived suppressor cells in a TLR4- and MyD88-dependent fashion that suppressed lung dendritic cell (DC)-mediated reactivation of primed Th2 cells. LPS effects switched from suppressive to stimulatory in MyD88-/- mice. Suppression of Th2 effector function was reversed by anti-IL-10 or inhibition of Arginase 1. Lineageneg bone marrow progenitor cells could be induced by LPS to develop into CD11b+Gr1intF4/80+ cells both in vivo and in vitro which when adoptively transferred suppressed allergen-induced airway inflammation in recipient mice. These data suggest that CD11b+Gr1intF4/80+ cells contribute to the protective effects of LPS in allergic asthma by tempering Th2 effector function in the tissue.
LPS; lung; myeloid cells; asthma; suppression
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
Rationale: The hallmarks of allergic asthma are airway inflammation, obstruction, and remodeling. Airway remodeling may lead to irreversible airflow obstruction with increased morbidity and mortality. Despite advances in the treatment of asthma, the mechanisms underlying airway remodeling are still poorly understood. We reported that insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding proteins (IGFBPs) contribute to extracellular matrix deposition in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; however, their contribution to airway remodeling in asthma has not been established.
Objectives: We hypothesized that IGFBP-3 is overexpressed in asthma and contributes to airway remodeling.
Methods: We evaluated levels of IGFBP-3 in tissues and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from patients with asthma at baseline and 48 hours after allergen challenge, in reparative epithelium in an in vitro wounding assay, and in conditioned media from cytokine- and growth factor–stimulated primary epithelial cells.
Measurements and Main Results: IGFBP-3 levels and distribution were evaluated by Western blot, ELISA, and immunofluorescence. IGFBP-3 is increased in vivo in the airway epithelium of patients with asthma compared with normal control subjects. The concentration of IGFBP-3 is increased in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with asthma after allergen challenge, its levels are increased in reparative epithelium in an in vitro wounding assay and in the conditioned medium of primary airway epithelial cell cultures stimulated with IGF-I.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that one mechanism of allergic airway remodeling is through the secretion of the profibrotic IGFBP-3 from IGF-I–stimulated airway epithelial cells during allergic inflammation.
asthma; bronchoalveolar lavage; primary epithelial cells; insulin-like growth factor binding protein; fibrosis
New therapeutic approaches are needed for severe asthmatics who are refractory to standard therapy with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting β2-agonists. Current treatment guidelines for severe asthmatics from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommend the addition of oral corticosteroids, which are associated with significant morbidity, and for those with allergic asthma, anti-IgE. Genetic and translational studies, as well as clinical trials, suggest that in a sub-group of patients the pathobiology of severe asthma is mediated by immune pathways driven by Th2-type CD4+ T cells which produce a characteristic repertoire of interleukins, including IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13. Therefore, biological modifiers of Th2-type interleukins, such as monoclonal antibodies, soluble receptors and receptor antagonists, represent a rational strategy for developing new treatment approaches, but will need to be targeted to selected individuals in whom the appropriate Th2 immune pathway is “active.” The benefits of immune modifier therapies targeting Th2-type cytokines, however, will need to be weighed against the toxicities associated with inhibition of key biological pathways, as well as the expense of future medications. Therefore, future clinical trials will need to clearly establish the efficacy and safety of biological modifiers of Th2 immune pathways before these approaches can enter routine clinical practice for the treatment of severe asthma.
Rationale: 15-Lipoxygenase-1 (15LO1) and MUC5AC are highly expressed in asthmatic epithelial cells. IL-13 is known to induce 15LO1 and MUC5AC in human airway epithelial cells in vitro. Whether 15LO1 and/or its product 15-HETE modulate MUC5AC expression is unknown.
Objectives: To determine the expression of 15LO1 in freshly harvested epithelial cells from subjects with asthma and normal control subjects and to determine whether IL-13–induced 15LO1 expression and activation regulate MUC5AC expression in human bronchial epithelial cells in vitro.
Methods: Human airway epithelial cells from subjects with asthma and normal subjects were evaluated ex vivo for 15LO1 and MUC5AC expression. The impact of 15LO1 on MUC5AC expression in vitro was analyzed by inhibiting 15LO1 through pharmacologic (PD146176) and siRNA approaches in human bronchial epithelial cells cultured under air–liquid interface. We analyzed 15 hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (15-HETE) by liquid chromatography/UV/mass spectrometry. MUC5AC and 15LO1 were analyzed by real-time RT-PCR, immunofluoresence, and Western blot.
Measurements and Main Results: Epithelial 15LO1 expression increased with asthma severity (P < 0.0001). 15LO1 significantly correlated with MUC5AC ex vivo and in vitro. IL-13 increased 15LO1 expression and stimulated formation of two molecular species of 15-HETE esterified to phosphotidylethanolamine (15-HETE-PE). Inhibition of 15LO1 suppressed 15-HETE-PE and decreased MUC5AC expression in the presence of IL-13 stimulation. The addition of exogenous 15-HETE partially restored MUC5AC expression.
Conclusions: Epithelial 15LO1 expression increases with increasing asthma severity. IL-13 induction of 15-HETE-PE enhances MUC5AC expression in human airway epithelial cells. High levels of 15LO1 activity could contribute to the increases of MUC5AC observed in asthma.
15-lipoxygenase-1; MUC5AC; asthma pathogenesis; inflammation; lipid mediator
Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated responses contribute to allergy and asthma. Little is understood regarding the relationship of tissue IgE to systemic IgE, inflammation or clinical outcomes.
To evaluate local IgE expression and cellular inflammation in proximal and distal lung of normal subjects and subjects with asthma of varying severity and relate those tissue parameters to systemic IgE levels, atopy, lung function and history of severe exacerbations of asthma.
Tissue from over 90 subjects with eosinophilic (SAeo+) and non-eosinophilic (SAeo−) severe asthma, mild asthma and normal subjects were immunostained for IgE, signal-amplifying isoform of IgE receptor (FcεRIβ) and markers of mast cells, eosinophils and lymphocytes. Tissue expression of IgE, FcεRIβ, cellular inflammation, serum IgE and atopy were compared. Regression models were used to determine the relationship of local and systemic IgE to lung function and severe exacerbations of asthma.
Mast cell-bound IgE was present along airways, but absent in lung parenchyma. While the groups were similar in systemic/serum IgE and atopy, local/tissue IgE was highest in SAeo+ and correlated with eosinophils and lymphocytes (rs=0.52; p<0.0001 and rs=0.23; p=0.03, respectively). Higher local IgE was associated with better lung function, but also with more severe exacerbations of asthma.
Local IgE appears to be primarily a component of responses within the mucosal immune compartment and is related to cellular inflammation, lung function and clinical outcomes in asthma.
Local/airway IgE-related processes rather than systemic markers of atopy may be relevant in determining clinical outcomes in asthma.
The study reports mucosal distribution of mast cell-bound IgE in human lung and suggests that local IgE and related responses rather than systemic/serum IgE and atopy are more relevant in determining clinical outcomes in asthma.
Immunoglobulin E; mucosal immune response; asthma exacerbation; mast cells; eosinophils; lymphocytes
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
Rationale: Excessive deposition of extracellular matrix occurs in proximal airways of individuals with asthma, but fibrosis in distal lung has not been observed. Whether differing fibrotic capacities of fibroblasts from these two regions contribute to this variability is unknown.
Objectives: We compared morphologic and functional characteristics of fibroblasts isolated from proximal airways and distal lung parenchyma to determine phenotypic differences.
Methods: Concurrent proximal airway and distal lung biopsies were obtained by bronchoscopy from subjects with asthma to isolate airway and distal lung fibroblasts, respectively. The following characteristics were compared: morphology, proliferation, α-smooth muscle actin expression, and synthesis of procollagen type I and eotaxin-1.
Results: Airway fibroblasts (AFs) are morphologically distinct from distal lung fibroblasts (DLFs): they are larger (2.3-fold greater surface area vs. matched DLFs; p = 0.02), stellate in appearance, and with more cytoplasmic projections compared with the spindle-shaped DLFs. AFs synthesized more procollagen type I than did DLFs at baseline (twofold higher; p = 0.003) and after transforming growth factor-β stimulation (1.4-fold higher; p = 0.02). Similarly, AFs produced more eotaxin-1 than did DLFs at baseline (2.5-fold higher; p = 0.004) and after interleukin-13 stimulation (13-fold higher; p = 0.0001). In contrast, DLFs proliferate more than AFs with serum stimulation (about sixfold greater; p = 0.03). Unstimulated DLFs also expressed more α-smooth muscle actin than did corresponding AFs (p = 0.006).
Conclusions: These studies suggest that at least two phenotypes of fibroblast exist in the lung. These phenotypic differences may partially explain the variable responses to injury and repair between proximal airways and distal lung/parenchyma in asthma and other respiratory diseases.
asthma; fibroblast; interleukin 13; remodeling; transforming growth factor β
Rationale: Increased oxidative stress and decreased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in the asthmatic airway are correlated to airflow limitation and hyperreactivity. We hypothesized that asthmatic individuals with higher levels of oxidative stress may have greater loss of SOD activity, which would be reflected systemically in loss of circulating SOD activity and clinically by development of severe asthma and/or worsening airflow limitation. Methods: To investigate this, serum SOD activity and proteins, the glutathione peroxidase/glutathione antioxidant system, and oxidatively modified amino acids were measured in subjects with asthma and healthy control subjects. Results: SOD activity, but not Mn-SOD or Cu,Zn-SOD protein, was lower in asthmatic serum as compared with control, and activity loss was significantly related to airflow limitation. Further, serum SOD activity demonstrated an inverse correlation with circulating levels of 3-bromotyrosine, a posttranslational modification of proteins produced by the eosinophil peroxidase system of eosinophils. Exposure of purified Cu,Zn-SOD to physiologically relevant levels of eosinophil peroxidase-generated reactive brominating species, reactive nitrogen species, or tyrosyl radicals in vitro confirmed that eosinophil-derived oxidative pathways promote enzyme inactivation. Conclusion: These findings are consistent with greater oxidant stress in asthma leading to greater inactivation of SOD, which likely amplifies inflammation and progressive airflow obstruction.
asthma; superoxide dismutase; glutathione; pulmonary functions; peroxidase
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
asthma genetics; atopy; C11orf30; LRRC32; total serum IgE levels
Patients with severe or difficult-to-treat asthma account for substantial asthma morbidity, mortality, and healthcare burden despite comprising only a small proportion of the total asthma population. TENOR, a multicenter, observational, prospective cohort study was initiated in 2001. It enrolled 4,756 adults, adolescents and children with severe or difficult-to-treat asthma who were followed semi-annually and annually for three years, enabling insight to be gained into this understudied population. A broad range of demographic, clinical, and patient self-reported assessments were completed during the follow-up period. Here, we present key findings from the TENOR registry in relation to asthma control and exacerbations, including the identification of specific subgroups found to be at particularly high-risk. Identification of the factors and subgroups associated with poor asthma control and increased risk of exacerbations can help physicians design individual asthma management, and improve asthma-related health outcomes for these patients.
Severe asthma; Difficult-to-treat asthma; Asthma control; Exacerbation
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
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
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