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Thorax. 1998 Dec;53(12):1030-4.

Increase in exhaled nitric oxide levels in patients with difficult asthma and correlation with symptoms and disease severity despite treatment with oral and inhaled corticosteroids. Asthma and Allergy Group.

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  • 1Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Patients with difficult asthma suffer chronic moderate to severe persistent asthma symptoms despite high doses of inhaled and oral corticosteroid therapy. These patients suffer a high level of treatment and disease related morbidity but little is known about the degree of airway inflammation in these patients.

METHODS:

Fifty two patients were examined to assess levels of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) as a surrogate marker of inflammatory activity in this condition. From this group, 26 patients were defined with severe symptoms and current physiological evidence of reversible airway obstruction requiring high dose inhaled (> or = 2000 micrograms beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) equivalent) or oral steroid therapy to maintain disease control.

RESULTS:

Exhaled NO levels were higher in subjects with difficult asthma (mean 13.9 ppb, 95% CI 9.3 to 18.5) than in normal controls (7.4 ppb, 95% CI 6.9 to 7.8; p < 0.002), but lower than levels in steroid naive mild asthmatics (36.9 ppb, 95% CI 34.6 to 39.3; p < 0.001). Prednisolone treated patients had higher exhaled NO levels than patients only requiring inhaled corticosteroids (17.5 ppb, 95% CI 11.1 to 24.0 versus 7.2 ppb, 95% CI 4.6 to 9.8; p = 0.016), suggesting greater disease severity in this group. Non-compliance with prednisolone treatment was observed in 20% of patients but this did not explain the difference between the treatment groups. Exhaled NO levels were closely correlated with symptom frequency (p = 0.03) and with rescue beta agonist use (p < 0.002), but they did not correlate with lung function.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exhaled NO may serve as a useful complement to lung function and symptomatology in the assessment of patients with chronic severe asthma, and in the control and rationalisation of steroid therapy in these patients.

PMID:
10195074
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1745124
Free PMC Article
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