Clinical utility of exhaled nitric oxide

Petsky, Helen L. (2013) Clinical utility of exhaled nitric oxide. PhD by Publication, The University of Queensland.

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Lower airway inflammation is generally classified as eosinophilic or neutrophilic. In conditions where eosinophilic inflammation predominates such as asthma in children, corticosteroids are usually beneficial. Traditionally, lower airway eosinophilia is measured using cellular count (through bronchoalveolar lavage or induced sputum). Both methods have limited applicability in children. When instruments to measure fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) became available, it presented an attractive option as it provided a non-invasive method of measuring eosinophilic inflammation suitable for children and adult. Not surprisingly, proposals have been made that FeNO measurement can be clinically used in many scenarios including monitoring the response to anti-inflammatory medications, to verify the adherence to treatment, and to predict upcoming asthma exacerbations.

This thesis addresses the utility of FeNO levels in various scenarios, specifically in relation to asthma control and cough, a contentious aspect of the diagnosis of asthma. The thesis consists of a series of systematic reviews (related to the main question) and original studies in children. The over-arching aim of the thesis is to determine if FeNO is a clinically useful tool in the management of asthma and common asthma symptoms.

The specific aims of the thesis were, to:

  1. Determine if children with asthma have more severe acute respiratory symptoms at presentation with an asthma exacerbation and at days 7, 10 and 14 using validated scales. We also examined if children with asthma were more likely to have a persistent cough on day 14 than children with protracted bronchitis and/or controls.

  2. Evaluate the efficacy of tailoring asthma interventions based on sputum analysis in comparison to clinical symptoms (with or without spirometry/peak flow) for asthma related outcomes in children and adults.

  3. Evaluate the efficacy of tailoring asthma interventions based on exhaled nitric oxide in comparison to clinical symptoms (with or without spirometry/peak flow) for asthma related outcomes in children and adults.

  4. Determine if adjustment of asthma medications based on FeNO levels (compared to management based on clinical symptoms) reduces severe exacerbations in children with asthma.

  5. Examine the relationship between FeNO and exercise induced broncho-constriction and cough in children

The aims above are addressed in respective chapters and all but one has been published/submitted. A synopsis of the findings are:

In study-1 (Aim 1), we found that children with protracted bronchitis had the most severe acute respiratory infection symptoms and higher percentage of respiratory morbidity at day 14 in comparison to children with asthma and healthy controls.

The systematic review of study-2 (Aim 2) included 246 randomised adult participants (no children) with 221 completing the trials. In the meta-analysis, a significant reduction in number of participants who had one or more asthma exacerbations occurred when treatment was based on sputum eosinophils in comparison to clinical symptoms.

In the systematic review of study-3 (Aim 3), we found no significant difference between the intervention group (treatment adjusted based on FeNO) and control group (treatment adjusted based on clinical symptoms) for the primary outcome of asthma exacerbations or for the other outcomes (clinical symptoms, FeNO level and spirometry). In post-hoc analysis, a significant reduction in mean final daily dose ICS per adult was found in the group where treatment was based on FeNO in comparison to clinical symptoms. In contrast, in the paediatric studies, there was a significant increase in ICS dose in the FeNO strategy arm.

Thus, controversy remains of the benefit or otherwise of utilising exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) in routine clinical practice. FeNO levels are dependent on atopy and none of the 7 published trials have considered atopic status in FeNO levels when medications were adjusted.

In study-4 (Aim 4), 64 children with asthma were recruited. Their asthma medications were adjusted according to either FeNO levels or usual clinical care utilising a management hierarchy taking into account atopy. It was concluded that tailoring of asthma medications in accordance to FeNO levels (compared to usual management), taking into account atopy status, reduced the number of children with severe exacerbations. However, a FeNO-based strategy resulted in higher daily ICS doses and had no benefit on asthma control.

In study-5 (Aim 5), 33 children with cough and 17 controls were recruited. They were randomised to undertake an exercise challenge on day 1, or dry powder mannitol challenge on day 1 (with alternative challenge being done on day 2). In addition, a 24 hour cough meter, skin prick test, capsaicin cough sensitivity test and cough diary were undertaken. The change in cough frequency post exercise was significantly increased in the children with cough. FeNO decreases post exercise regardless of whether EIB is present or not.

Limitations in the studies were addressed in the respective chapters. In summary, the studies from this thesis have provided new information on:

• The severity of respiratory symptoms was increased in the early phase of the asthma exacerbation but not in the later recovery phase when compared with controls.

• The utility of FeNO in the management of children with asthma.

• The relationship of FeNO, cough and EIB in children.

• Systematic reviews on the efficacy of tailoring asthma interventions based on eosinophilic inflammatory markers (sputum analysis and FeNO) in comparison to clinical symptoms.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 75759
Item Type: Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Paediatric asthma, Exhaled nitric oxide, Indirect airway challenges, Atopy, Cough
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE AND HAEMATOLOGY (110200) > Respiratory Diseases (110203)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PAEDIATRICS AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE (111400) > Paediatrics (111403)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: The University of Queensland
Deposited On: 28 Aug 2014 23:46
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2014 23:46

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