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Respir Med. 2014 Dec;108(12):1723-32. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2014.10.007. Epub 2014 Oct 27.

Heterogeneity of phenotypes in severe asthmatics. The Belgian Severe Asthma Registry (BSAR).

Author information

Department of Pulmonary Medicine, CHU Sart-Tilman, Liege, I³GIGA Research Group, University of Liege, Belgium. Electronic address:
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, CHU Sart-Tilman, Liege, I³GIGA Research Group, University of Liege, Belgium.
Department of Respiratory Medicine, CHU of Mont-Godinne, Université Catholique de Louvain, Yvoir, Belgium.
Chest Department, Erasme University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.
Laboratory of Allergy & Mucosal Immunology and Cliniques Universitaires St-Luc, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Brussels, Belgium.
Department of Respiratory Medicine, CHU-Charleroi, A. Vésale Hospital, Charleroi, Belgium.


The Belgian severe asthma registry is a web-based registry encompassing demographic, clinical, functional and inflammatory data of severe asthmatics (SA), aiming at improving awareness, knowledge on its natural history and subphenotypes, and offering tools to optimize care of this asthma population.


The cross-sectional analyses of this registry included 350 SA as defined by the ATS (2000) from 9 Belgian centres, with at least one year follow up.


Mean age was 55 ± 14 yrs. SA were more frequently female (57%) and atopic (70%). Late-onset asthma (≥40 yr) was observed in 31% of SA. Current smokers represented 12% while 31% were ex-smokers. In addition to high doses ICS + LABA, 65% of patients were receiving LTRA, 27% anti-IgE and 24% maintenance oral corticosteroids (8 mg (Interquartile range-IQR:4-8) methylprednisolone). Despite impaired airflow (median FEV1:67%; IQR: 52-81) only 65% had a post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio <70%. The median blood eosinophil count was 240/mm³. The median FENO was 26 ppb (IQR: 15-43) and 22% of SA had FENO ≥ 50 ppb. Induced sputum was successful in 86 patients. Eosinophilic asthma (sputum Eos ≥ 3%) was the predominant phenotype (55%) while neutrophilic (sputum Neu ≥ 76%) and paucigranulocytic asthma accounted for 22% and 17% respectively. Comorbidities included rhinitis and chronic rhinosinusitis (49%), nasal polyposis (19%), oesophageal reflux (36%), overweight and obesity (47%) and depression (19%). In addition, 8% had aspirin-induced asthma and 3% ABPA. Asthma was not well-controlled in 83% according to ACT < 20 and 77% with ACQ > 1.5.


In this cohort of patients with severe asthma, the majority displayed indices of persistent airflow limitation and eosinophilic inflammation despite high-dose corticosteroids, suggesting potential for eosinophil-targeted biotherapies.


Comorbidities; Inflammation; Phenotype; Severe asthma

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