Modern understanding of lung sounds started with a historical article by Forgacs. Since then, many studies have clarified the changes of lung sounds due to airway narrowing as well as the mechanism of genesis for these sounds. Studies using bronchoprovocation have shown that an increase of the frequency and/or intensity of lung sounds was a common finding of airway narrowing and correlated well with lung function. Bronchoprovocation studies have also disclosed that wheezing may not be as sensitive as changes in basic lung sounds in acute airway narrowing. A forced expiratory wheeze (FEW) may be an early sign of airway obstruction in patients with bronchial asthma. Studies of FEW showed that airway wall oscillation and vortex shedding in central airways are the most likely mechanisms of the generation of expiratory wheezes. Studies on the genesis of wheezes have disclosed that inspiratory and expiratory wheezes may have the same mechanism of generation as a flutter/flow limitation mechanism, either localized or generalized. In lung sound analysis, the narrower the airways are, the higher the frequency of breathing sounds is, and, if a patient has higher than normal breathing sounds, i.e., bronchial sounds, he or she may have airway narrowing or airway inflammation. It is sometimes difficult to detect subtle changes in lung sounds; therefore, we anticipate that automated analysis of lung sounds will be used to overcome these difficulties in the near future.
Nitric oxide (NO), previously very famous for being an environmental pollutant in the field of pulmonary medicine, is now known as the smallest, lightest, and most famed molecule to act as a biological messenger. Furthermore, recent basic researches have revealed the production mechanisms and physiological functions of nitric oxide in the lung, and clinical researches have been clarifying its tight relation to airway inflammation in asthma. On the bases of this knowledge, fractional nitric oxide (FeNO) has now been introduced as one of the most practical tools for the diagnosis and management of bronchial asthma.
Most infants and preschool children are not able to voluntarily perform the physiological maneuvers required to complete the pulmonary function tests that are used in adults and older children. Recently, commercial devices using forced oscillation technique (FOT) suitable for young children have become available. In devices with FOT, an oscillation pressure wave is generated by a loud speaker, is applied to the respiratory system, usually at the mouth, and the resulting pressure-flow relationship is analyzed in terms of impedance (Zrs). Zrs encompasses both resistance (Rrs) and reactance (Xrs). Rrs is calculated from pressure and flow signals, and is a measure of central and peripheral airway caliber. Xrs is derived from the pressure in the phase with volume and is related to compliance (Crs) and inertance (Irs). These parameters individually indicate the condition of the small and large airways in each patient and indirectly suggest the presence of airway inflammation. It is agreed that the clinical diagnostic capacity of FOT is comparable to that of spirometry. One of the advantages of FOT is that minimal cooperation of the patient is needed and no respiratory maneuvers are required. The use of FOT should be considered in patients in whom spirometry or other pulmonary function tests cannot be performed or in cases where the results of other tests appear to be unreliable. In addition, this approach is effective in assessing bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Considering these qualities, FOT is a useful method to study pulmonary function in preschool children with asthma.
Growing interest had been focused on the involvement of the small airways in asthma, and impulse oscillometry (IOS) has been utilized as pulmonary functions for detecting large and small airways diseases separately. IOS can measure respiratory resistance and reactance at multiple frequencies, not available by spirometry or body plethysmography, is non-invasive techniques and convenient for elderly patients with a low dependency on cooperation during tidal breathing. IOS indices were well correlated with not only predicted FEV1 but also FEF25-75, residual volume/total lung capacity, delta N2 of a single nitrogen washout test which representing air trapping and inhomogeneous ventilation in the distal lung. These parameters and QOL scores were improved by additional transdermal long-acting beta-2 agonist patch even in well-controlled elderly asthma treating with inhaled corticosteoids alone. IOS may have a complementary role of spirometry in detecting subtle airways changes in general practice. However, systemic studies are required to investigate the clinical implication of each IOS index.
The clinical syndrome of aspirin-intolerant asthma (AIA) is characterized by aspirin/nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug intolerance, bronchial asthma, and chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis. AIA reactions are evidently triggered by pharmacological effect of cyclooxygenase-1 inhibitors. Urine sampling is a non-invasive research tool for time-course measurements in clinical investigations. The urinary stable metabolite concentration of arachidonic acid products provides a time-integrated estimate of the production of the parent compounds in vivo. AIA patients exhibits significantly higher urinary concentrations of leukotriene E4 (LTE4) and 1,15-dioxo-9α-hydroxy-2,3,4,5-tetranorprostan-1,20-dioic acid (tetranor-PGDM), a newly identified metabolite of PGD2, at baseline. This finding suggests the possibility that increased mast cell activation is involved in the pathophysiology of AIA even in a clinically stable condition. In addition, lower urinary concentrations of primary prostaglandin E2 and 15-epimer of lipoxin A4 at baseline in the AIA patients suggest that the impaired anti-inflammatory elements may also contribute to the severe clinical outcome of AIA. During the AIA reaction, the urinary concentrations of LTE4 and PGD2 metabolites, including tetranor-PGDM significantly and correlatively increase. It is considered that mast cell activation probably is a pathophysiologic hallmark of AIA. However, despite the fact that cyclooxygenease-1 is the dominant in vivo PGD2 biosynthetic pathway, the precise mechanism underlying the PGD2 overproduction resulting from the pharmacological effect of cyclooxygenease-1 inhibitors in AIA remains unknown. A comprehensive analysis of the urinary concentration of inflammatory mediators may afford a new research target in elucidating the pathophysiology of AIA.
Background: Virus infection is an important risk factor for aggravation of childhood asthma. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of drugs on aggravation of asthma induced by a common cold. Methods: Asthma control was examined in a survey of 1,014 Japanese pediatric patients with bronchial asthma. The occurrence of common cold, asthma control, and drugs used for asthma control were investigated using a modified Childhood Asthma Control Test (C-ACT) for patients aged <4 years old and 4 to 11 years old, and an Asthma Control Test (ACT) for patients aged 12 to 15 years old. Results: The status of asthma control did not differ among the age groups. The prevalence of common cold and aggravation of asthma were significantly higher in patients aged <4 years old. Control of asthma following common cold-induced aggravation was significantly less effective in patients aged <4 years old compared to those aged ≥4 years old. In patients aged <4 years old with a common cold, asthma control was significantly more effective for those treated with leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) compared to treatment without LTRAs. Asthma control did not differ between patients who did or did not take inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting β2 stimulants. Conclusions: These findings showed a high prevalence of common cold in younger patients with childhood asthma and indicated that common cold can induce aggravation of asthma. LTRAs are useful for long-term asthma control in very young patients who develop an asthma attack due to a common cold.
Background: The particle distribution might differ between nebulizer therapy and metered-dose inhaler (MDI) or dry powder inhaler (DPI) therapy because the particles repeatedly enter/re-enter the airways with the nebulizer. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) were administered with a nebulizer to assess the benefit of changes in the distribution of particles in patients with cough variant asthma (CVA) and cough-predominant asthma (CPA). Methods: Patients whose symptoms were not controlled by their current therapy were enrolled. In patients receiving high-dose ICS by MDI or DPI (ICS-MDI/DPI), steroid therapy was switched to 1,320μg/day of nebulized dexamethasone (1,600μg as dexamethasone sodium phosphate) (chronic steroid-independent group). In patients receiving systemic steroids regardless of their ICS-MDI/DPI therapy, nebulized dexamethasone was added and any concurrent ICS-MDI/DPI therapy was halted to detect a steroid-sparing effect (chronic steroid-dependent group). In patients with acute exacerbation of CVA or CPA and persistent symptoms despite systemic corticosteroids, nebulized dexamethasone was added to assess its effect (acute group). Results: Superior symptom control was achieved in 10 out of 12 steroid-independent patients, 3 out of 6 steroid-dependent patients, and all 7 acute patients. Conclusions: Delivery of ICS via a nebulizer has advantages over ICS-MDI/DPI in some patients with CVA or CPA.
Background: Treatment guidelines recommend the use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) as first-line therapy for all stages of persistent asthma. However, it is unknown whether ICS dose reduction in adult asthmatics is compatible with maintaining asthma control. Moreover, there are no predictors of efficacy in maintaining asthma control upon ICS reduction. Methods: We recruited 90 adult patients with moderate or severe asthma but no clinical symptoms of asthma for at least 6 months. All patients reduced their ICS doses by half but continued taking other asthma-related medications. As a primary outcome, we measured asthma exacerbations during the 12 months following ICS reduction. We also further monitored patients from the above study who had maintained total asthma control for 12 months after ICS reduction and who had continued on their reduced doses of ICS or had further reduced, or stopped, their ICS. Results: Forty of ninety patients (44.4%) experienced exacerbations after ICS reduction (time to first exacerbation: 6.4 ± 3.6 months). Multivariate logistic regression modeling revealed a rank order of predictors of success in ICS reduction while retaining asthma control: acetylcholine (ACh) PC20 (p < 0.01); length of time with no clinical symptoms before ICS reduction (p < 0.01); FeNO (p = 0.028); and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1; % predicted) (p = 0.03). Finally thirty-nine of 50 patients maintained total asthma control for at least 2 years after the initial ICS reduction. Conclusions: In asthma patients with normalized AChPC20 of 20mg/mL or 10mg/mL and no clinical symptoms for at least 12 or 24 months it may be possible to successfully reduce ICS without increasing exacerbations for long time.
Background: An in vitro elicitation test employing human high-affinity IgE receptor-expressing rat mast cell lines appears to be a useful method for measuring mast cell activation using a patient's IgE and an allergen; however, such cell lines are sensitive to human complements in the serum. We have recently developed a new luciferase-reporting mast cell line (RS-ATL8) to detect IgE crosslinking-induced luciferase expression (EXiLE) with relatively low quantities of serum IgE. Methods: A total of 30 patients suspected of having egg white (EW) allergy were subjected to an oral food challenge (OFC) test; then, the performances of EW-specific serum IgE (CAP-FEIA), EW-induced degranulation, and EXiLE responses in RS-ATL8 cells were compared using receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. The patients' sera were diluted to 1 : 100, which causes no cytotoxicity when sensitizing the RS-ATL8 cells for the degranulation and EXiLE tests. Results: The area under the ROC curves was highest in the EXiLE test (0.977), followed by CAP-FEIA (0.926) and degranulation (0.810). At an optimal cutoff range (1.648-1.876) calculated from the ROC curve of the EXiLE test, sensitivity and specificity were 0.944 and 0.917, respectively. A 95% positive predictive value was given at a cutoff level of 2.054 (fold increase in luciferase expression) by logistic regression analysis. Conclusions: In contrast to in vivo tests, the EXiLE test appears to be a useful tool in diagnosing patients suspected of having IgE-dependent EW allergy without the risk of severe systemic reactions.
Background: Although budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FORM) is used clinically as a steroid/β2-agonist single inhaler, it has not yet been clarified whether BUD/FORM has inotropic effects on diaphragm muscles after inhalation. Methods: We examined the effects of BUD/FORM inhalation, endotoxin injection, and BUD/FORM inhalation plus endotoxin injection on diaphragm contractile properties and nitric oxide (NO) production. After these three treatments, the diaphragm muscle was dissected, and its contractile properties were measured. Histochemistry for the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase was performed for each muscle to assess NO production. Results: The force-frequency curves showed an upward shift 1 h after inhalation (p < 0.05) in the BUD/FORM inhalation only group. The force-frequency curves showed a downward shift 4 h after injection (p < 0.001) in the endotoxin injection groups. In the BUD/FORM inhalation plus endotoxin injection groups, a downward shift in the force-frequency curves at 4 h after endotoxin injection was prevented. NO production was inhibited in the BUD/FORM inhalation plus endotoxin injection group compared with that of the endotoxin injection only groups. Conclusions: BUD/FORM inhalation has an inotropic effect on diaphragm muscle, protects diaphragm muscle deterioration after endotoxin injection, and inhibits NO production. Increments in muscle contractility with BUD/FORM inhalation are induced through a synergistic effect of an anti-inflammatory agent and β2-agonist.
Background: Mucus hypersecretion from airway epithelium is a characteristic feature of severe asthma. Glucocorticoids (GCs) may suppress mucus production and diminish the harmful airway obstruction. We investigated the ability of GCs to suppress mRNA expression and protein synthesis of a gene encoding mucin, MUC5AC, induced by transforming growth factor (TGF)-α in human mucoepidermoid carcinoma (NCI-H292) cells and the molecular mechanisms underlying the suppression. Methods: We determined if GCs such as dexamethasone (DEX), budesonide (BUD), and fluticasone (FP) could suppress MUC5AC production induced by a combination of TGF-α and double-strand RNA, polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (polyI:C). MUC5AC mRNA expression and MUC5AC protein production were evaluated. The signaling pathways activated by TGF-α and their inhibition by GCs were tested using a phosphoprotein assay and MUC5AC promoter assay. Results: DEX significantly suppressed the expression of MUC5AC mRNA and MUC5AC protein induced by TGF-α. The activation of the MUC5AC promoter by TGF-α was significantly inhibited by DEX. DEX did not affect activation of downstream pathways of the EGF receptor or mRNA stability of MUC5AC transcripts. DEX, BUD, and FP suppressed MUC5AC protein expression induced by a combination of TGF-α and polyI:C in a dose-dependent manner. Conclusions: GCs inhibited MUC5AC production induced by TGF-α alone or a combination of TGF-α and polyI:C; the repression may be mediated at the transcriptional but not post-transcriptional level.
Background: The human IL1RL1/ST2 gene encodes IL33 receptor. Recently, IL33 has been recognized as a key molecule for the development of Th2 response. Although mast cells and basophils are major targets of IL33 and play important roles in IL33-mediated Th2-type immune responses, the expression mechanism of ST2 in mast cells and basophils is largely unknown. In the present study, we analyzed regulation mechanism of the human ST2 promoter in the human mast cell line LAD2 and basophilic cell line KU812. Methods: Promoter activity was determined by reporter assay with plasmids carrying the wild-type ST2 promoter obtained from human genomic DNA and its mutant. The transcription factor binding to the identified cis-element was identified by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). The effect of candidate transcription factor on ST2 expression was confirmed by analyzing ST2 mRNA level in siRNA-introduced cells. Results: Reporter assay demonstrated that a cis-element of typical Ets-family binding sequence was critical for promoter activity in LAD2 and KU812. An Ets-family transcription factor PU.1 bound to this element in an EMSA. When PU.1 expression was suppressed by siRNA, ST2 mRNA level was significantly reduced in KU812. Conclusions: These observations indicated that PU.1 positively regulates the ST2 promoter as a transcription factor that directly transactivates the ST2 promoter via Ets-family-related cis-element in mast cells and basophils.
Background: Sweating plays a key role in skin homeostasis, including antimicrobial and moisturizing effects, and regulation of skin surface pH. Impaired axon reflex-mediated (AXR) sweating has been observed in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD). However, the mechanism of such abnormal sudomotor axon reflex remains to be revealed. Methods: To investigate this mechanism, sudomotor function was analyzed using a quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test (acetylcholine iontophoresis) in patients with AD (n = 26) and healthy volunteers (n = 12). Correlation between sudomotor function and certain background factors, including Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory score, Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) score, number of circulating eosinophils, and serum concentrations of thymus and activation-regulated chemokine and immunoglobulin E radioimmunosorbent test, was validated. Results: Latency time was significantly prolonged in AD (p = 0.0352), and AXR sweating volume (mg/0-5min) was significantly lower in AD patients than in healthy controls (p = 0.0441). Direct sweating volume (mg/0-5min) was comparable in AD patients and healthy controls. A significant correlation between the evaluation results of quantitative sudomotor axon reflex tests and certain background factors was not observed. The latency time in non-lesioned and lesioned areas for AD patients versus continuous anxiety value in the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory and the AXR versus SCORAD showed significant correlations (p = 0.0424, p = 0.0169, and p = 0.0523, respectively). Conclusions: Although the number of study subjects was little, abnormal AXR sweating in patients with AD was observed. Correlative analysis suggests possible involvement of continuous anxiety and the immune system in such abnormal sudomotor function.
Background: Previous studies show that depression plays an important role in asthma. However, the association between asthma control and severity, and depression is inconclusive. Methods: To investigate the association between asthma control and severity, and depression, we assessed differences in asthma control and asthma severity between groups with various grades of depressive state as defined by the PHQ-9 score using data from the Japanese version of Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (J-PHQ-9) and a questionnaire survey including the Asthma Control Test (ACT). Results: The ACT scores in the symptom-screen positive (SP) and major/other depressive disorder (MDD/ODD) group were significantly lower than those in the symptom-screen negative (SN) and non-MDD/ODD groups, respectively. The rate of step1 and of step 3 and 4 in the SP group were significantly lower and higher than those in the SN group, respectively. When the SP group was divided into three, that is minimal, mild, and more than mild (MTM) depressive state subgroups, the ACT scores in the mild and MTM depressive state subgroups were significantly lower than those in the minimal depressive state subgroup. When the MTM subgroup was divided into moderate, moderate-severe and severe depressive state groups, however, there was no significant variation in ACT score and asthma severity among these three depressive state groups. Conclusions: This study is the first, large-scale investigation of the use of the J-PHQ-9 in asthma patients. Using the J-PHQ-9 and the questionnaire, there was a clear association between asthma control and severity, and depression. As the depression became more severe, the existence of other depression-associated factors unrelated to asthma control and severity might be assumed, although further investigation will be required.
Background: Although the association between asthma control and body mass index (BMI) has been thoroughly investigated, most of this work has focused on the influence on asthma incidence or the effect of obesity on asthma control. To date, there have been no published studies on the influence of underweight on asthma control. Methods: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of underweight, as defined by the Japan Society for the Study of Obesity (JASSO), on asthma control in Japanese asthmatic patients. Using data from questionnaire surveys administered by the Niigata Asthma Treatment Study Group, we compared asthma control, as measured by the Asthma Control Test (ACT), between a normal weight group (18.5kg/m2 =< BMI < 25kg/m2) and an underweight group (BMI < 18.5kg/m2). Results: Of the asthmatic patients who completed the 2008 and 2010 surveys, 1464 and 1260 cases were classified as being in the normal weight group, and 174 and 155 cases were classified as being in the underweight group. The ACT score (median, [interquartile range]) in the underweight group in 2008 (22, [19-24]) and 2010 (23, [19-25]) was significantly lower than that in the normal group in 2008 (23, [20-25]) and in 2010 (24, [21-25]). Conclusions: This study is the first, large-scale investigation of the influence of underweight on asthma control, and we have confirmed an adverse influence in a clinical setting. A potential mechanism for this interaction was unknown. Further investigation will be required.