Use of exhaled nitric oxide measurement to identify a reactive, at-risk phenotype among patients with asthma

Raed A. Dweik, Ronald L. Sorkness, Sally Wenzel, Jeffrey Hammel, Douglas Curran-Everett, Suzy A.A. Comhair, Eugene Bleecker, William Busse, William J. Calhoun, Mario Castro, Kian Fan Chung, Elliot Israel, Nizar Jarjour, Wendy Moore, Stephen Peters, Gerald Teague, Benjamin Gaston, Serpil C. Erzurum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


Rationale: Exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation in mild to moderate asthma. However, whether FENO levels are informative regarding airway inflammation in patients with severe asthma,whoare refractory to conventional treatment, is unknown. Here, we hypothesized that classification of severe asthma based on airway inflammation as defined by FENO levels would identify a more reactive, at-risk asthma phenotype. Methods: FENO and major features of asthma, including airway inflammation, airflow limitation, hyperinflation, hyperresponsiveness, and atopy, were determined in 446 individuals with various degrees of asthma severity (175 severe, 271 nonsevere) and 49 healthy subjects enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program. Measurements and Main Results: FENO levels were similar among patients with severe and nonsevere asthma. The proportion of individuals with high FENO levels (>35 ppb) was the same (40%) among groups despite greater corticosteroid therapy in severe asthma. All patients with asthma and high FENO had more airway reactivity (maximal reversal in response to bronchodilator administration and by methacholine challenge), more evidence of allergic airway inflammation (sputum eosinophils), more evidence of atopy (positive skin tests, higher serum IgE and blood eosinophils), and more hyperinflation, but decreased awareness of their symptoms. High FENO identified those patientswith severeasthmacharacterized by the greatest airflow obstruction and hyperinflation and most frequent use of emergency care. Conclusions: Grouping of asthma by FENO provides an independent classification of asthma severity, and among patients with severe asthma identifies the most reactive and worrisome asthma phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1041
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway reactivity
  • Exhaled breath
  • Nitric oxide
  • Phenotype
  • Severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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