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Characterisation of patients with severe asthma in the UK Severe Asthma Registry in the biologic era
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  • Published on:
    Response to correspondence (Jackson et al. Thorax 2021)
    • Liam G Heaney, Professor of Respiratory Medicine Queens University Belfast
    • Other Contributors:
      • David J Jackson, Consultant Respiratory Physician

    The influence of obesity on both asthma and T2 biomarkers remains poorly understood and we fully agree this requires further investigation, as does the relationship between obesity, depression and persistent symptoms of breathlessness. However, the data correlating obesity and FeNO is conflicting and the reported weak positive associations have often not been adjusted for corticosteroid dose and may simply reflect higher doses of corticosteroid therapy in more breathless obese patients than by those of normal weight, rather than a specific mechanistic relationship.
    Moreover, the UKSAR population appears very different from the cohorts described in some of these reports. For example, the average FeNO was only 25ppb in the Komakula study, whilst in the study by Lugogo subjects were predominantly T2-low across all BMI categories: the upper quartile value of blood eosinophils in both lean and obese groups was <300 cells/µL, whilst the upper quartile of FeNO in both lean and obese groups was <30ppb. In contrast, even in the UKSAR T2 high cohort, the mean BMI was in the obese range.
    The nature and veracity of the ‘T2-low’ phenotype remains unclear, particularly in severe asthma. What is increasingly apparent is that patients are frequently prescribed high dose inhaled and systemic corticosteroids for respiratory symptoms, which suppresses T2 inflammation in the process. In the context of obesity and other co-morbidities known to be associated with increased re...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Letter to the editors
    • Varun Sharma, Difficult Asthma Clinical Research Fellow, Respiratory Registrar 1. Glasgow Royal Infirmary. 2. Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow Inflammation
    • Other Contributors:
      • Douglas C Cowan, Consultant Respiratory Physician

    We read with interest the recent paper from DJ Jackson et al, “Characterisation of patients with severe asthma in the UK Severe Asthma Registry in the biologic era” [1], and share their concerns regarding the risk of excessive corticosteroid exposure in T2-low individuals. We congratulate the authors for gathering such an extensive range of data in this large cohort of people with severe asthma, enabling meaningful comparisons, particularly between biologic and non-biologic populations. We echo the call for further work to identify and validate pragmatic T2-low endotype-specific biomarkers through clearer understanding of this inflammatory cascade. This cohort of patients continues to be under-served, made all the more evident by the paucity of novel therapies in this era of precision medicine.
    We note the authors’ comments on T2-biomarker increase with corticosteroid dose reduction, and the presence of a historic T2-high profile in some individuals from the T2-low group. Whilst the postulated explanation reported by the authors, one of corticosteroid-induced T2-biomarker suppression, is undoubtedly a key factor (and indeed supported by the significant difference in corticosteroids between the groups), we would suggest another important factor that may be relevant to the understanding of the T2-low pathway.
    The authors report a significant difference in BMI between T2-high and T2-low groups (30.2kg/m2 and 32.1kg/m2 respectively, P-value = <0.001). Whilst the...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.