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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Apr;159(4 Pt 1):1043-51.

Clinical control and histopathologic outcome of asthma when using airway hyperresponsiveness as an additional guide to long-term treatment. The AMPUL Study Group.

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Departments of Pulmonology, Clinical Epidemiology, and Pathology, Leiden University Medical Center; and Asthma Management Project University Leiden (AMPUL) Study Group, Leiden, The Netherlands.


According to international guidelines, the level and adjustment of antiinflammatory treatment for asthma are based solely on symptoms and lung function. We investigated whether a treatment strategy aimed at reducing airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR strategy) in addition to the recommendations in the existing guidelines (reference strategy) led to: (1) more effective control of asthma; and (2) greater improvement of chronic airways inflammation. To accomplish this, we conducted a randomized, prospective, parallel trial involving 75 adults with mild to moderate asthma who visited a clinic every 3 mo for 2 yr. At each visit, FEV1 and AHR to methacholine were assessed, and subjects kept diaries of symptoms, beta2-agonist use, and peak expiratory flow (PEF). Medication with corticosteroids (four levels) was adjusted according to a stepwise approach (reference strategy), to which four severity classes of AHR were added (AHR strategy). At entry and after 2 yr, bronchial biopsies were obtained by fiberoptic bronchoscopy. Patients treated according to the AHR strategy had a 1.8-fold lower rate of mild exacerbations than did patients in the reference strategy group (0. 23 and 0.43 exacerbation/yr/patient, respectively). FEV1 also improved to a significantly greater extent in the AHR strategy group (p </= 0.05). In bronchial biopsies this was accompanied by a greater reduction in thickness of the subepithelial reticular layer in the AHR strategy group than in the reference strategy group (mean difference [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.7 micrometers (0.2 to 3.1) micrometers]). The changes in AHR in both strategy groups were correlated with eosinophil counts in the biopsies (r = -0.48, p = 0.003). We conclude that reducing AHR in conjunction with optimizing symptoms and lung function leads to more effective control of asthma while alleviating chronic airways inflammation. This implies a role for the monitoring of AHR or other surrogate markers of inflammation in the long-term management of asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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