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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Sep;132(3):547-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.01.058. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Exhaled breath condensate eicosanoid levels associate with asthma and its severity.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



The relationship between anti-inflammatory lipoxins and proinflammatory leukotrienes might be important in the pathobiology and severity of asthma.


We sought to investigate whether exhaled breath condensate (EBC) lipoxin and leukotriene measurements can noninvasively characterize the asthmatic diathesis and its severity.


We measured lipoxin A4 (LXA4) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) levels in EBC collected from patients with asthma of different severities and from healthy control subjects.


EBC LXA4 and LTB4 levels are increased in asthmatic patients compared with those seen in healthy control subjects (LXA4: 31.40 vs 2.41 pg/mL EBC, respectively [P < .001]; LTB4: 45.62 vs 3.82 pg/mL EBC, respectively [P < .001]). Although levels of both eicosanoids are increased in asthmatic patients, the LXA4/LTB4 ratio decreases with increasing asthma severity. It is 41% lower in patients with severe versus moderate asthma (0.52 vs 0.88, P = .034). EBC LXA4 levels correlate with the degree of airflow obstruction measured by using FEV1 (r = 0.28, P = .018). An LXA4 cutoff value of 7 pg/mL EBC provides 90% sensitivity and 92% specificity for the diagnosis of asthma (area under the curve, 0.96; P < .001). An LTB4 cutoff value of 11 pg/mL EBC provides 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity for the diagnosis of asthma (area under the curve, 1; P < .001).


Proresolving and proinflammatory eicosanoids are generated in the airways of all asthmatic patients. The proportion of proresolving compounds decreases with asthma severity. These findings support the role for EBC eicosanoid measurements in the noninvasive diagnosis of asthma and suggest that proresolving eicosanoid pathways are dysregulated in patients with severe asthma.


Asthma; BAL; Bronchoalveolar lavage; CysLT; Cysteinyl leukotriene; EBC; Exhaled breath condensate; Feno; Fraction of exhaled nitric oxide; ICS; Inhaled corticosteroid; LTB(4); LXA(4); Leukotriene B(4); Lipoxin A(4); biomarkers; breath tests; eicosanoids; leukotriene B(4); lipoxin A(4)

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