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Biomarkers and asthma management

an update

Bayes, Hannah K.; Cowan, Douglas C.

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: June 2016 - Volume 16 - Issue 3 - p 210–217
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000263
OUTCOME MEASURES: Edited by Henry Milgrom and René Maximiliano Gómez

Purpose of review Asthma is heterogeneous with different endotypes/phenotypes. Response to corticosteroids is variable and novel biological therapies are proving useful. Biomarkers allow individualization of treatment. This review provides an update on available data regarding asthma biomarkers with focus on their utility for prediction of response to steroidal and new biological therapies.

Recent findings Blood eosinophils are a biomarker with acceptable accuracy as a surrogate for sputum eosinophilia, are associated with relevant outcomes, and are more readily measureable. New evidence supports fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FENO)-based treatment algorithms for cost-effective maintenance of asthma control/quality of life. Serum and sputum-derived periostin are biomarkers of lung function decline and associated with eosinophilic airway inflammation. Transcriptomics show promise for endotyping; their role in management remains to be determined. Biomarker panels may improve predictive value as shown for the combination of FENO/urinary bromotyrosine in prediction of steroid responsiveness. Novel biological therapies are proving effective in biomarker-selected populations.

Summary Biomarkers including blood eosinophils and FENO are proving to have utility for the effective administration of steroidal and novel biological therapies in asthma, allowing individualized treatment. Transcriptomics can discriminate subtypes of asthma and may have a role in delivery of individualized therapy.

aInstitute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow

bDepartment of Respiratory Medicine, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK

Correspondence to Douglas C. Cowan, MBChB, MRCP, PhD, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 16 Alexander Parade, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK. Tel: +44 141 211 5451; fax: +44 141 211 1120; e-mail:

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