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1.  Diagnostic accuracy of the bronchodilator response in children 
The bronchodilator response (BDR) reflects the reversibility of airflow obstruction and is recommended as an adjunctive test to diagnose asthma. The validity of the commonly used definition of BDR, a 12% or greater change in FEV1 from baseline, has been questioned in childhood.
We sought to examine the diagnostic accuracy of the BDR test by using 3 large pediatric cohorts.
Cases include 1041 children with mild-to-moderate asthma from the Childhood Asthma Management Program.
Control subjects (nonasthmatic and nonwheezing) were chosen from Project Viva and Home Allergens, 2 population-based pediatric cohorts. Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed, and areas under the curve were calculated for different BDR cutoffs.
A total of 1041 cases (59.7% male; mean age, 8.9 ± 2.1 years) and 250 control subjects (46.8% male; mean age, 8.7 ± 1.7 years) were analyzed, with mean BDRs of 10.7% ± 10.2% and 2.7% ± 8.4%, respectively. The BDR test differentiated asthmatic patients from nonasthmatic patients with a moderate accuracy (area under the curve, 73.3%).
Despite good specificity, a cutoff of 12% was associated with poor sensitivity (35.6%). A cutoff of less than 8% performed significantly better than a cutoff of 12% (P = .03, 8% vs 12%).
Our findings highlight the poor sensitivity associated with the commonly used 12% cutoff for BDR. Although our data show that a threshold of less than 8% performs better than 12%, given the variability of this test in children, we conclude that it might be not be appropriate to choose a specific BDR cutoff as a criterion for the diagnosis of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3759549  PMID: 23683464
Asthma; bronchodilator response; diagnosis
2.  Classification of childhood asthma phenotypes and long-term clinical responses to inhaled anti-inflammatory medications 
Although recent studies have identified the presence of phenotypic clusters in asthmatic patients, the clinical significance and temporal stability of these clusters have not been explored.
Our aim was to examine the clinical relevance and temporal stability of phenotypic clusters in children with asthma.
We applied spectral clustering to clinical data from 1041 children with asthma participating in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Posttreatment randomization follow-up data collected over 48 months were used to determine the effect of these clusters on pulmonary function and treatment response to inhaled anti-inflammatory medication.
We found 5 reproducible patient clusters that could be differentiated on the basis of 3 groups of features: atopic burden, degree of airway obstruction, and history of exacerbation. Cluster grouping predicted long-term asthma control, as measured by the need for oral prednisone (P < .0001) or additional controller medications (P = .001), as well as longitudinal differences in pulmonary function (P < .0001). We also found that the 2 clusters with the highest rates of exacerbation had different responses to inhaled corticosteroids when compared with the other clusters. One cluster demonstrated a positive response to both budesonide (P = .02) and nedocromil (P = .01) compared with placebo, whereas the other cluster demonstrated minimal responses to both budesonide (P = .12) and nedocromil (P = .56) compared with placebo.
Phenotypic clustering can be used to identify longitudinally consistent and clinically relevant patient subgroups, with implications for targeted therapeutic strategies and clinical trials design.
PMCID: PMC4047642  PMID: 24892144
Childhood asthma; asthma phenotypes; inhaled corticosteroids; cluster analysis; asthma classification; longitudinal study
3.  Effect of Vitamin D and Inhaled Corticosteroid Treatment on Lung Function in Children 
Rationale: Low vitamin D levels are associated with asthma and decreased airway responsiveness. Treatment with inhaled corticosteroids improves airway responsiveness and asthma control.
Objectives: To assess the effect of vitamin D levels on prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and responsiveness to methacholine (PC20, provocative concentration of methacholine producing a 20% decline in FEV1) in patients with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids.
Methods: We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in the serum of children with persistent asthma at the time of enrollment in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. We divided subjects into the vitamin D sufficiency (>30 ng/ml), insufficiency (20–30 ng/ml), and deficiency (<20 ng/ml) groups. Covariates included age, treatment, sex, body mass index, race, history of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and season that vitamin D specimen was drawn. Our main outcome measures were change in prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and PC20 from enrollment to 8–12 months.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,024 subjects, 663 (65%) were vitamin D sufficient, 260 (25%) were insufficient, and 101 (10%) were deficient. Vitamin D–deficient subjects were more likely to be older, African American, and have a higher body mass index compared with the vitamin D–sufficient and insufficient subjects. In the inhaled corticosteroid treatment group, prebronchodilator FEV1 increased from randomization to 12 months by 140 ml in the vitamin D–deficient group and prebronchodilator FEV1 increased by 330 ml in the vitamin D insufficiency group and by 290 ml in the vitamin D sufficiency group (P = 0.0072), in adjusted models.
Conclusions: In children with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids, vitamin D deficiency is associated with poorer lung function than in children with vitamin D insufficiency or sufficiency.
PMCID: PMC3480528  PMID: 22798322
asthma; vitamin D; lung function; forced expiratory volume; children
4.  Modeling the Potential Impact of a Prescription Drug Copayment Increase on the Adult Asthmatic Medicaid Population 
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts increased the copayment for prescription drugs by $1.50 for Medicaid (MassHealth) beneficiaries in 2003. We sought to determine the likely health outcomes and cost shifts attributable to this copayment increase using the example of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) use among adult asthmatic Medicaid beneficiaries.
We compared the predicted costs and health outcomes projected over a 1-year time horizon with and without the increase in copayment from the perspective of MassHealth, providers, pharmacies, and MassHealth beneficiaries by employing decision analysis simulation model.
In a target population of 17,500 adult asthmatics, increased copayments from 50¢ to $2.00 would result in an additional 646 acute events per year, caused by increased drug nonadherence. Annual combined net savings for the state and federal governments would be $2.10 million. Projected MassHealth savings are attributable to both decreased drug utilization and lower pharmacy reimbursement rates; these more than offset the additional costs of more frequent acute exacerbations. Pharmacies would lose $1.98 million in net revenues, MassHealth beneficiaries would pay an additional $0.28 million, and providers would receive additional $0.16 million.
Over its first year of implementation, increase in the prescription drug copayment is expected to produce more frequent acute exacerbations among asthmatic MassHealth beneficiaries who use ICS and to shift the financial burden from government to other stakeholders.
PMCID: PMC3476042  PMID: 18237365
asthma; copayment; medicaid; prescription drug
5.  Cost-effectiveness of omalizumab in adults with severe asthma: Results from the Asthma Policy Model 
Omalizumab (trade name Xolair) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of moderate-to-severe allergic asthma. Given the high acquisition cost of omalizumab, its role and cost-effectiveness in disease management require definition.
We sought to identify the clinical and economic circumstances under which omalizumab might or might not be a cost-effective option by using a mathematic model.
We merged published data on clinical and economic outcomes (including acute event incidence, frequency/severity of hospitalizations, and health-related quality of life) to project 10-year costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and cost-effectiveness of treatment with omalizumab in addition to inhaled corticosteroids. Sensitivity analyses were conducted by using input data ranges from a variety of sources (published clinical trials and observational databases).
For patients with baseline acute event rates, omalizumab conferred an additional 1.7 quality-adjusted months at an incremental cost of $131,000 over a 10-year planning horizon, implying a cost-effectiveness ratio of $821,000 per QALY gained. For patients with 5 times the baseline acute event rate, the cost-effectiveness ratio was $491,000 per QALY gained. The projected cost-effectiveness ratio could fall within a range of other programs that are widely considered to be cost-effective if the cost of omalizumab decreases to less than $200.
Omalizumab is not cost-effective for most patients with severe asthma. The projected cost-effectiveness ratios could fall within a favorable range if the cost of omalizumab decreases significantly.
Clinical implications
Based on the high cost of omalizumab, it is especially important that clinicians explore alternative medications for asthma before initiating omalizumab.
PMCID: PMC3476046  PMID: 17904628
Omalizumab; cost-effectiveness; asthma; anti-IgE
6.  In Utero Smoke Exposure and Impaired Response to Inhaled Corticosteroids in Children with Asthma 
Few studies have examined the effects of in utero smoke exposure (IUS) on lung function in children with asthma, and there are no published data on the impact of IUS on treatment outcomes in asthmatic children.
To explore whether IUS exposure is associated with increased airway responsiveness among children with asthma, and whether IUS modifies the response to treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
To assess the impact of parent-reported IUS exposure on airway responsiveness in childhood asthma we performed a repeated-measures analysis of methacholine PC20 data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), a four-year, multicenter, randomized double masked placebo controlled trial of 1041 children ages 5–12 comparing the long term efficacy of ICS with mast cell stabilizing agents or placebo.
Although improvement was seen in both groups, asthmatic children with IUS exposure had on average 26% less of an improvement in airway responsiveness over time compared to unexposed children (p=.01). Moreover, while children who were not exposed to IUS who received budesonide experienced substantial improvement in PC20 compared to untreated children (1.25 fold-increase, 95% CI 1.03, 1.50, p=.02) the beneficial effects of budesonide were attenuated among children with a history of IUS exposure (1.04 fold-increase, 95% CI 0.65, 1.68, p=.88).
IUS reduces age-related improvements in airway responsiveness among asthmatic children. Moreover, IUS appears to blunt the beneficial effects of ICS use on airways responsiveness. These results emphasize the importance of preventing this exposure through smoking cessation counseling efforts with pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC2937829  PMID: 20673983
asthma; in utero smoke exposure; airway responsiveness; inhaled corticosteroids
7.  Serum Vitamin D Levels and Severe Asthma Exacerbations in the Childhood Asthma Management Program Study 
Asthma exacerbations, most often due to respiratory tract infections, are the leading causes of asthma morbidity and comprise a significant proportion of asthma-related costs. Vitamin D status may play a role in preventing asthma exacerbations.
To assess the relationship between serum vitamin D levels and subsequent severe asthma exacerbations.
We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels in serum collected from 1,024 mild to moderate persistent asthmatic children at the time of enrollment in a multi-center clinical trial of children randomized to receiving budesonide, nedocromil, or placebo (as-needed beta-agonists), the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Using multivariable modeling we examined the relationship between baseline vitamin D level and the odds of any hospitalization or emergency department (ED) visit over the 4 years of the trial.
35% of all subjects were vitamin D insufficient, as defined by a level ≤ 30 ng/ml 25(OH)D. Mean vitamin D levels were lowest in African-American subjects, and highest in whites. After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, income, and treatment group, insufficient vitamin D status was associated with a higher odds of any hospitalization or ED visit (odds ratio [OR] 1.5 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1 – 1.9] P =0.01).
Vitamin D insufficiency is common in this population of North American children with mild to moderate persistent asthma, and is associated with higher odds of severe exacerbation over a four year period.
PMCID: PMC2902692  PMID: 20538327
Asthma; Vitamin D; inhaled corticosteroids; asthma exacerbations
8.  Patterns of inhaled corticosteroid use and asthma control in the Childhood Asthma Management Program Continuation Study 
Daily controller medication use is recommended for children with persistent asthma to achieve asthma control.
To examine patterns of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) use and asthma control in an observational study of children and adolescents with mild-to-moderate asthma (the Childhood Asthma Management Program Continuation Study).
We assessed patterns of ICS use during a 12-month period (consistent, intermittent, and none) and asthma control (well controlled vs poorly controlled). Multivariate logistic regression examined the association between pattern of ICS use and asthma control.
Of 914 patients enrolled, 425 were recommended to continue receiving ICS therapy in the Childhood Asthma Management Program Continuation Study. Of these patients, 46% reported consistent ICS use and 20% reported no ICS use during year 1. By year 4, consistent ICS use decreased to 20%, whereas no ICS use increased to 57%; poorly controlled asthma was reported in 18% of encounters. In multivariate models controlling for age, sex, forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and asthma severity assessment, patients reporting consistent ICS use during a 12-month period were more likely to report poor asthma control (odds ratio, 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–2.1) compared with those reporting no ICS use.
In this observational study of children and adolescents with mild-to-moderate asthma, most did not report continued use of ICS. Patients recommended to continue receiving ICS therapy and reporting consistent ICS use were less likely to report well-controlled asthma even after controlling for markers of asthma severity. Although residual confounding by severity cannot be ruled out, many children and adolescents may not achieve well-controlled asthma despite consistent use of ICS.
PMCID: PMC3040975  PMID: 20143642
9.  Clinical Predictors and Outcomes of Consistent Bronchodilator Response in the Childhood Asthma Management Program 
Among asthmatics, bronchodilator response (BDR) to inhaled ß2- adrenergic agonists is variable, and the significance of a consistent response over time is unknown.
We assessed baseline clinical variables and determined the clinical outcomes associated with a consistently positive BDR over 4 years in children with mild-moderate persistent asthma.
In the 1,041 participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), subjects with a change in FEV1 of 12% or greater (and 200mLs) after inhaled ß2 agonist at each of their yearly follow-up visits (consistent BDR) were compared with those who did not have a consistent BDR.
We identified 52 children with consistent BDR over the 4-year trial. Multivariable logistic regression modeling demonstrated that baseline pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (OR=0.71, p<0.0001), log 10 IgE level (OR=1.97, p=0.002), and lack of treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (OR=0.31, p=0.009) were associated with a consistent BDR. Individuals who had a consistent BDR had more hospital visits (p=0.007), required more prednisone bursts (p=0.0007), had increased nocturnal awakenings due to asthma (p<0.0001), and missed more days of school (p=0.03) than non-responders during the 4-year follow-up.
We have identified predictors of consistent BDR and determined that this phenotype is associated with poor clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2947830  PMID: 18848350
asthma; consistent bronchodilator response; outcomes
10.  Airway Responsiveness in Mild to Moderate Childhood Asthma 
Rationale: Airway responsiveness is a prognostic marker for asthma symptoms in later life.
Objectives: To evaluate characteristics responsible for persistence of airway responsiveness in children with asthma.
Methods: A total of 1,041 children, initially aged 5–12 years, with mild to moderate persistent asthma enrolled in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) were studied prospectively for 8.6 ± 1.8 years with methacholine challenges yearly.
Measurements and Main Results: Least squares geometric mean models were fit to determine effects of sex and age on airway responsiveness (provocative concentration producing 20% decrease in FEV1 [PC20]). Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to determine factors at baseline and over time, which were associated with PC20 at end of follow-up. A total of 7,748 methacholine challenges were analyzed. PC20 increased with age, with boys having greater increase after age 11 years than girls (P < 0.001). The divergence coincided with the mean age for Tanner stage 2. Postpubertal girls had greater airway responsiveness, even after adjustment for FEV1 and other potential confounders. Although multivariable regression analyses noted a variety of factors that influenced airway responsivness in both sexes, a history of hay fever (β= −0.30, P = 0.005), respiratory allergy (β= −0.32, P = 0.006), or recent inhaled corticosteroid usage (β= −0.18, P = 0.02) were associated with decrements in final log PC20 only in girls.
Conclusions: Airway responsiveness (PC20) is more severe in the postpubertal female with asthma than in males. Although there are factors associated with airway responsiveness in both males and females, sex-specific factors may contribute to new insights into asthma pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2542438  PMID: 18420965
methacholine; PC20; FEV1; bronchoconstriction

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