Background: A diagnosis of aspirin-intolerant asthma requires aspirin provocation in specialist clinics. Urinary leukotriene E4 (LTE4) is increased in aspirin-intolerant asthma. A study was undertaken to investigate new biomarkers of aspirin intolerance by comparing basal levels of cysteinyl-leukotrienes (CysLTs) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) in saliva, sputum and ex vivo stimulated blood in subjects with aspirin-intolerant and aspirin-tolerant asthma. The effects of aspirin- and allergen-induced bronchoconstriction on leukotriene levels in saliva and ex vivo stimulated blood were also compared with the effects of the provocations on urinary mediators.
Methods: Induced sputum, saliva, urine and blood were obtained at baseline from 21 subjects with asthma. At a separate visit, 11 subjects showed a positive response to lysine-aspirin inhalation and 10 were aspirin tolerant. Saliva, blood and urine were also collected on the provocation day. Analyses of CysLTs and LTB4 and the prostaglandin D2 metabolite 9α,11β-prostaglandin F2 were performed and the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide was measured.
Results: Subjects with aspirin-intolerant asthma had higher exhaled nitric oxide levels and higher baseline levels of CysLTs in saliva, sputum, blood ex vivo and urine than subjects with aspirin-tolerant asthma. There were no differences in LTB4 levels between the groups. Levels of urinary LTE4 and 9α,11β-prostaglandin F2 increased after aspirin provocation whereas leukotriene levels in saliva and ex vivo stimulated blood did not increase.
Conclusion: These findings support a global and specific increase in CysLT production in aspirin-intolerant asthma. Measurement of CysLTs in saliva has the potential to be a new and convenient non-invasive biomarker of aspirin-intolerant asthma.
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▸ An extended version of the Methods section is published online only at http://thorax.bmj.com/content/vol63/issue12
Funding: The Swedish MRC, Heart-Lung Foundation, Asthma and Allergy Foundation, The Stockholm County Council (ALF), the Research Council of HMQ Sophiahemmet and Karolinska Institutet.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The study was approved by the local ethics committee (Dnr 518/03) and the subjects gave written informed consent.
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