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1.  Comparison of Physician-, Biomarker-, and Symptom-Based Strategies for Adjustment of Inhaled Corticosteroid Therapy in Adults With Asthma 
Context
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.
Objective
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.
Interventions
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
Trial Registration
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00495157
doi:10.1001/2012.jama.10893
PMCID: PMC3697088  PMID: 22968888
2.  A Large Subgroup of Mild-to-Moderate Asthma Is Persistently Noneosinophilic 
Rationale: Airway eosinophilia is typical of asthma, and many controller treatments target eosinophilic disease. Asthma is clinically heterogeneous, however, and a subgroup of people with asthma do not have airway eosinophilia. The size of this subgroup is uncertain because prior studies have not examined repeated measures of sputum cytology to determine when people with asthma have intermittent versus persistent sputum eosinophila and when they are persistently noneosinophilic.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence and clinical characteristics of the noneosinophilic asthma phenotype.
Methods: We analyzed sputum cytology data from 995 subjects with asthma enrolled in clinical trials in the Asthma Clinical Research Network where they had undergone sputum induction and measures of sputum cytology, often repeatedly, and assessment of responses to standardized asthma treatments.
Measurements and Main Results: In cross-sectional analyses, sputum eosinophilia (≥2% eosinophils) was found in only 36% of subjects with asthma not taking an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and 17% of ICS-treated subjects with asthma; an absence of eosinophilia was noted frequently, even in subjects with asthma whose disease was suboptimally controlled. In repeated measures analyses of people with asthma not taking an ICS, 22% of subjects had sputum eosinophilia on every occasion (persistent eosinophilia); 31% had eosinophilia on at least one occasion (intermittent eosinophilia); and 47% had no eosinophilia on every occasion (persistently noneosinophilic). Two weeks of combined antiinflammatory therapy caused significant improvements in airflow obstruction in eosinophilic asthma, but not in persistently noneosinophilic asthma. In contrast, bronchodilator responses to albuterol were similar in eosinophilic and noneosinophilic asthma.
Conclusions: Approximately half of patients with mild-to-moderate asthma have persistently noneosinophilic disease, a disease phenotype that responds poorly to currently available antiinflammatory therapy.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201109-1640OC
PMCID: PMC3326288  PMID: 22268133
asthma; eosinophil; noneosinophilic; obesity; neutrophil
3.  Airway Microbiota and Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness in Patients with Sub-optimally Controlled Asthma 
Background
Improvement in lung function following macrolide antibiotic therapy has been attributed to reduction in bronchial infection due to specific bacteria. However, the airway may be populated by a more diverse microbiota, and clinical features of asthma may be associated with characteristics of the airway microbiota present.
Objective
To determine if relationships exist between the composition of the airway bacterial microbiota and clinical features of asthma, using culture-independent tools capable of detecting the presence and relative abundance of most known bacteria.
Methods
In this pilot study, bronchial epithelial brushings were collected from sixty-five adults with sub-optimally controlled asthma participating in a multicenter study of the effects of clarithromycin on asthma control, and ten healthy subjects. A combination of high-density 16S rRNA microarray and parallel clone library-sequencing analysis was used to profile the microbiota and examine relationships with clinical measurements.
Results
Compared to controls, 16S rRNA amplicon concentrations (a proxy for bacterial burden) and bacterial diversity were significantly higher among asthmatic patients. In multivariate analyses, airway microbiota composition and diversity were significantly correlated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Specifically, the relative abundance of particular phylotypes, including members of the Comamonadaceae, Sphingomonadaceae, Oxalobacteraceae and other bacterial families, were highly correlated with the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness.
Conclusion
The composition of bronchial airway microbiota is associated with the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness among patients with sub-optimally controlled asthma. These findings support the need for further functional studies to examine the potential contribution of members of the airway microbiota in asthma pathogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.048
PMCID: PMC3037020  PMID: 21194740
microbiome; bacteria; asthma; 16S rRNA; PhyloChip
4.  A trial of clarithromycin for the treatment of suboptimally controlled asthma 
Background
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) studies have demonstrated evidence of M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae in the lower airways of patients with asthma.
Objective
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.024
PMCID: PMC2950827  PMID: 20920764
asthma; infection; antibiotic
5.  Tiotropium Bromide Step-Up Therapy for Adults with Uncontrolled Asthma 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;363(18):1715-1726.
BACKGROUND
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.
METHODS
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).
RESULTS
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).
CONCLUSIONS
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.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1008770
PMCID: PMC3011177  PMID: 20979471
6.  The impact of population heterogeneity on risk estimation in genetic counseling 
BMC Medical Genetics  2004;5:18.
Background
Genetic counseling has been an important tool for evaluating and communicating disease susceptibility for decades, and it has been applied to predict risks for a wide class of hereditary disorders. Most diseases are complex in nature and are affected by multiple genes and environmental conditions; it is highly likely that DNA tests alone do not define all the genetic factors responsible for a disease, so that persons classified into the same risk group by DNA testing actually could have different disease susceptibilities. Ignorance of population heterogeneity may lead to biased risk estimates, whereas additional information on population heterogeneity may improve the precision of such estimates.
Methods
Although DNA tests are widely used, few studies have investigated the accuracy of the predicted risks. We examined the impact of population heterogeneity on predicted disease risks by simulation of three different heterogeneity scenarios and studied the precision and accuracy of the risks estimated from a logistic regression model that ignored population heterogeneity. Moreover, we also incorporated information about population heterogeneity into our original model and investigated the resulting improvement in the accuracy of risk estimation.
Results
We found that heterogeneity in one or more categories could lead to biased estimates not only in the "contaminated" categories but also in other homogeneous categories. Incorporating information about population heterogeneity into the original model greatly improved the accuracy of risk estimation.
Conclusions
Our findings imply that without thorough knowledge about genetic basis of the disease, risks estimated from DNA tests may be misleading. Caution should be taken when evaluating the predicted risks obtained from genetic counseling. On the other hand, the improved accuracy of risk estimates after incorporating population heterogeneity information into the model did point out a promising direction for genetic counseling, since more and more new techniques are being invented and disease etiology is being better understood.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-5-18
PMCID: PMC449710  PMID: 15228628

Results 1-6 (6)