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BACKGROUND: Severe asthma is a heterogeneous condition. Airway remodelling is a feature of severe asthma and can be determined by the assessment of high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans. The aim of this study was to assess whether airway remodelling is restricted to specific subphenotypes of severe asthma. METHODS: A retrospective analysis was performed of HRCT scans from subjects who had attended a single-centre severe asthma clinic between 2003 and 2008. The right upper lobe apical segmental bronchus (RB1) dimensions were measured and the clinical and sputum inflammatory characteristics associated with RB1 geometry were assessed by univariate and multivariate regression analyses. Longitudinal sputum data were available and were described as area under the time curve (AUC). Comparisons were made in RB1 geometry across subjects in four subphenotypes determined by cluster analysis, smokers and non-smokers, and subjects with and without persistent airflow obstruction. RESULTS: Ninety-nine subjects with severe asthma and 16 healthy controls were recruited. In the subjects with severe asthma the RB1 percentage wall area (%WA) was increased (p=0.009) and lumen area (LA)/body surface area (BSA) was decreased (p=0.008) compared with controls but was not different across the four subphenotypes. Airway geometry was not different between smokers and non-smokers and RB1 %WA was increased in those with persistent airflow obstruction. RB1 %WA in severe asthma was best associated with airflow limitation and persistent neutrophilic airway inflammation (model R(2)=0.27, p=0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Airway remodelling of proximal airways occurs in severe asthma and is associated with impaired lung function and neutrophilic airway inflammation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/thx.2010.136374

Type

Journal article

Journal

Thorax

Publication Date

09/2010

Volume

65

Pages

775 - 781

Keywords

Adult, Airway Remodeling, Asthma, Bronchi, Bronchography, Epidemiologic Methods, Female, Forced Expiratory Volume, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Male, Middle Aged, Neutrophil Infiltration, Phenotype, Tomography, X-Ray Computed