Time-dependent changes in orally exhaled nitric oxide and pulmonary functions induced by inhaled corticosteroids in childhood asthma

D Spallarossa, E Battistini, M Silvestri, F Sabatini, M G Biraghi, G A Rossi
Journal of Asthma 2001, 38 (7): 545-53
Exhaled nitric oxide levels are elevated in asthmatic children and decrease after inhaled steroid treatment. We evaluated the time-dependent changes in fractional exhaled nitric oxide concentration (FENO) and pulmonary function parameters following inhaled steroid therapy. Thirty-nine steroid-naive atopic patients (age 11.92+/-0.48 years) with mild intermittent asthma and 22 age-matched healthy controls were enrolled in the study; pulmonary functions and FE(NO) levels were measured. Low doses of inhaled steroids were prescribed to all asthmatic patients who were reevaluated in a second visit (between 10 and 40 days after the beginning of the treatment). At the enrolment, asthmatic patients had similar forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) values (p > 0.05) but reduced forced expiratory flows at 25-75% of the vital capacity (FEF(25-75%)) values, as compared to controls (p < 0.05). In addition, FE(NO) levels were significantly higher in asthmatics with respect to control subjects (30.8+/-3.0 and 4.0+/-0.5 ppb, respectively; p < 0.01). All asthmatics had FE(NO) levels higher than 8.8 ppb (i.e., > 2 standard deviations of the mean in controls). After steroid treatment, patients showed significant improvement of FEV1, FVC, and FEF(25-75%) (p = 0.0001; each comparison) and a reduction of FE(NO) levels (p = 0.0001). A weak significant correlation was found between percent decrease in FE(NO) levels and percent increase in FEV1 (r = 0.33, p = 0.04) or in FEF(25-75%) (r = 0.4, p = 0.01) after treatment. When changes in FE(NO) levels and in pulmonary function parameters were corrected for days of treatment, significant correlations were still present between percent decrease in FE(NO) levels and percent increase in FEV1 (r = 0.57, p = 0.0004) or percent increase in FEF(25-75%) (r = 0.45, p = 0.006). Sixteen of the 39 asthmatic patients were evaluated on two occasions after the beginning of treatment, at days 10 and 40. The significant reduction in FE(NO) levels (p < 0.01) and the significant increase in FEV1 and FEF(25-75%) values observed (p < 0.05) after 10 days did not further improve at day 40. These data show that it is possible to demonstrate early effects of low-dose inhaled steroids in asthmatic children using objective measurements of airway caliber and inflammation.

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