Tsai-Yu Wang, Yu-Lun Lo, Shu-Min Lin et al.
Harber, Philip; Leroy, Gondy
The Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) revolutionized information and data availability. The early WWW was one-directional; information spread from one website to a multitude of readers. Following this ‘static’ phase, Web 2.0 added user-generated content and social interaction. Social media both increase the scope of available data and provide new channels for sharing information. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogs are examples with impact on all aspects of modern personal life (e.g. Meetups and online dating) and business (e.g. Amazon) in both developed and developing countries. They create global awareness and interaction.
In medicine, the paternalistic patient–physician relationship has changed as patients inform themselves using information from many online sources including other patients. Health professionals themselves use the WWW to interact with their patients and with their peers. The WWW increasingly accumulates information from and about the public. Using electronic rather than print media, these methods very rapidly disseminate information from a single source to many persons. They are a platform for peer-to-peer (many-to-many) communication and a rich source of data for monitoring population health. Social media support research in two ways – analysis of publicly available WWW information not primarily intended for research and, second, through direct interaction, surveys, and experiments between the public and the researchers.
Tsai-Yu Wang, Yu-Lun Lo, Shu-Min Lin et al.
Although the prevalence of both obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and asthma are both increasing, little is known about the impact of OSA on the natural history of lung function in asthmatic patients.
A total of 466 patients from our sleep laboratory were retrospectively enrolled. Of them, 77 patients (16.5%) had asthma with regular follow-up for more than 5 years. Their clinical characteristics, pulmonary function, emergency room visits, and results of polysomnography results were analysed.
The patients were divided into three groups according to the severity of the apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI). The decline in FEV1 among asthma patients with severe OSA (AHI > 30/h) was 72.4 ± 61.7 ml/year (N = 34), as compared to 41.9 ± 45.3 ml/year (N = 33, P = 0.020) in those with mild to moderate OSA (5 < AHI ≤ 30) and 24.3 ± 27.5 ml/year (N = 10, P = 0.016) in those without OSA (AHI ≤ 5). For those patients with severe OSA, the decline of FEV1 significantly decreased after continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. After multivariate stepwise linear regression analysis, only AHI was remained independent factor for the decline of FEV1 decline.
Asthmatic patients with OSA had substantially greater declines in FEV1 than those without OSA. Moreover, CPAP treatment alleviated the decline of FEV1 in asthma patients with severe OSA.
Human eosinophils represent approximately 1% of peripheral blood leukocytes. However, these cells have the propensity to leave the blood stream and migrate into inflamed tissues. Eosinophilic inflammation is present in a significant proportion of patients with severe asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects more than 315 million people worldwide, with 10% having severe uncontrolled disease. Although the majority of patients can be efficiently treated, severe asthmatics continue to be uncontrolled and are at risk of exacerbations and even death. Interleukin-5 (IL-5) plays a fundamental role in eosinophil differentiation, maturation, activation and inhibition of apoptosis. Therefore, targeting IL-5 is an appealing approach to the treatment of patients with severe eosinophilic asthma. Reslizumab, a humanized anti-IL-5 monoclonal antibody, binds with high affinity to amino acids 89–92 of IL-5 that are critical for binding to IL-5 receptor α. Two phase III studies have demonstrated that reslizumab administration in adult patients with severe asthma and eosinophilia (≥400 cells/μL) improved lung function, asthma control, and symptoms. Thus, the use of blood eosinophils as a baseline biomarker could help to select patients with severe uncontrolled asthma who are likely to achieve benefits in asthma control with reslizumab. In conclusion, targeted therapy with reslizumab represents one step closer to precision medicine in patients with severe eosinophilic asthma.
Bhupendrasinh F Chauhan, Maya M Jeyaraman, Amrinder Singh Mann, Justin Lys, Ahmed M Abou-Setta, Ryan Zarychanski, Francine M Ducharme
Asthma management guidelines recommend low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) as first-line therapy for adults and adolescents with persistent asthma. The addition of anti-leukotriene agents to ICS offers a therapeutic option in cases of suboptimal control with daily ICS.
To assess the efficacy and safety of anti-leukotriene agents added to ICS compared with the same dose, an increased dose or a tapering dose of ICS (in both arms) for adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older with persistent asthma. Also, to determine whether any characteristics of participants or treatments might affect the magnitude of response.
We identified relevant studies from the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register of Trials, which is derived from systematic searches of bibliographic databases including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and the trial registries clinicaltrials.gov and ICTRP from inception to August 2016.
We searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older on a maintenance dose of ICS for whom investigators added anti-leukotrienes to the ICS and compared treatment with the same dose, an increased dose or a tapering dose of ICS for at least four weeks.
Data collection and analysis
We used standard methods expected by Cochrane. The primary outcome was the number of participants with exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids (except when both groups tapered the dose of ICS, in which case the primary outcome was the % reduction in ICS dose from baseline with maintained asthma control). Secondary outcomes included markers of exacerbation, lung function, asthma control, quality of life, withdrawals and adverse events.
We included in the review 37 studies representing 6128 adult and adolescent participants (most with mild to moderate asthma). Investigators in these studies used three leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs): montelukast (n = 24), zafirlukast (n = 11) and pranlukast (n = 2); studies lasted from four weeks to five years.
Anti-leukotrienes and ICS versus same dose of ICS
Of 16 eligible studies, 10 studies, representing 2364 adults and adolescents, contributed data. Anti-leukotriene agents given as adjunct therapy to ICS reduced by half the number of participants with exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids (risk ratio (RR) 0.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.29 to 0.86; 815 participants; four studies; moderate quality); this is equivalent to a number needed to treat for additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) over six to 16 weeks of 22 (95% CI 16 to 75). Only one trial including 368 participants reported mortality and serious adverse events, but events were too infrequent for researchers to draw a conclusion. Four trials reported all adverse events, and the pooled result suggested little difference between groups (RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.22; 1024 participants; three studies; moderate quality). Investigators noted between-group differences favouring the addition of anti-leukotrienes for morning peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), asthma symptoms and night-time awakenings, but not for reduction in β2-agonist use or evening PEFR.
Anti-leukotrienes and ICS versus higher dose of ICS
Of 15 eligible studies, eight studies, representing 2008 adults and adolescents, contributed data. Results showed no statistically significant difference in the number of participants with exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.39; 1779 participants; four studies; moderate quality) nor in all adverse events between groups (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.03; 1899 participants; six studies; low quality). Three trials reported no deaths among 834 participants. Results showed no statistically significant differences in lung function tests including morning PEFR and FEV1 nor in asthma control measures including use of rescue β2-agonists or asthma symptom scores.
Anti-leukotrienes and ICS versus tapering dose of ICS
Seven studies, representing 1150 adults and adolescents, evaluated the combination of anti-leukotrienes and tapering-dose of ICS compared with tapering-dose of ICS alone and contributed data. Investigators observed no statistically significant difference in % change from baseline ICS dose (mean difference (MD) -3.05, 95% CI -8.13 to 2.03; 930 participants; four studies; moderate quality), number of participants with exacerbations requiring oral corticosteroids (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.20 to 1.04; 542 participants; five studies; low quality) or all adverse events (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.08; 1100 participants; six studies; moderate quality). Serious adverse events occurred more frequently among those taking anti-leukotrienes plus tapering ICS than in those taking tapering doses of ICS alone (RR 2.44, 95% CI 1.52 to 3.92; 621 participants; two studies; moderate quality), but deaths were too infrequent for researchers to draw any conclusions about mortality. Data showed no improvement in lung function nor in asthma control measures.
For adolescents and adults with persistent asthma, with suboptimal asthma control with daily use of ICS, the addition of anti-leukotrienes is beneficial for reducing moderate and severe asthma exacerbations and for improving lung function and asthma control compared with the same dose of ICS. We cannot be certain that the addition of anti-leukotrienes is superior, inferior or equivalent to a higher dose of ICS. Scarce available evidence does not support anti-leukotrienes as an ICS sparing agent, and use of LTRAs was not associated with increased risk of withdrawals or adverse effects, with the exception of an increase in serious adverse events when the ICS dose was tapered. Information was insufficient for assessment of mortality.
NK cells in severe asthma—Failed resolution
Anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are a first line of defense against many types of asthma, but patients with severe asthma do not frequently respond to this therapy. Duvall et al. now report that this lack of response may be due in part to defects in natural killer (NK) cells, which are important mediators of inflammation resolution. They found that NK cells from patients with severe asthma had impaired killing and that corticosteroid exposure further inhibited the function of these cells, whereas the proresolving mediator LXA4 preserved NK cell effector mechanisms. Therefore, corticosteroids may be a counterproductive therapy in patients with severe asthma, and specifically activating NK cells may provide an alternate therapeutic target.
Severe asthma is typically characterized by chronic airway inflammation that is refractory to corticosteroids and associated with excess morbidity. Patients were recruited into the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute–sponsored Severe Asthma Research Program and comprehensively phenotyped by bronchoscopy. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. Compared with healthy individuals (n = 21), patients with asthma (n = 53) had fewer BAL natural killer (NK) cells. Patients with severe asthma (n = 29) had a marked increase in the ratios of CD4+ T cells to NK cells and neutrophils to NK cells. BAL NK cells in severe asthma were skewed toward the cytotoxic CD56dim subset, with significantly increased BAL fluid levels of the cytotoxic mediator granzyme A. The numbers of BAL CD56dim NK cells and CCR6−CCR4− T helper 1–enriched CD4+ T cells correlated inversely with lung function [forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) % predicted] in asthma. Relative to cells from healthy controls, peripheral blood NK cells from asthmatic patients had impaired killing of K562 myeloid target cells despite releasing more cytotoxic mediators. Ex vivo exposure to dexamethasone markedly decreased blood NK cell lysis of target cells and cytotoxic mediator release. NK cells expressed airway lipoxin A4/formyl peptide receptor 2 receptors, and in contrast to dexamethasone, lipoxin A4–exposed NK cells had preserved functional responses. Together, our findings indicate that the immunology of the severe asthma airway is characterized by decreased NK cell cytotoxicity with increased numbers of target leukocytes, which is exacerbated by corticosteroids that further disable NK cell function. These failed resolution mechanisms likely contribute to persistent airway inflammation in severe asthma.