Towards Improved Diagnostics and Monitoring in Childhood Asthma : Methodological and Clinical Aspects of Exhaled NO and Forced Oscillation Technique

Sammanfattning: Background: Asthma is a heterogeneous disease. Diagnosis relies on symptom evaluation and lung function tests using spirometry. Symptoms can be vague. Spirometry is effort-dependent and does not reliably evaluate small airways. Allergic asthma in preschool children is not easily separated from episodic wheeze.Exhaled NO (FeNO) is a marker of allergic Th2-cytokine-driven airway inflammation. However, FeNO is not feasible in preschoolers with current devices and algorithms. Alveolar NO is an estimate of small airway involvement. Forced oscillometry (FOT) is an effort-independent lung function test assessing both large and small airways.Aims: To study clinical and methodological aspects of FeNO, alveolar NO and lung function indices by FOT.Methods: Asthmatic children and young adults and healthy controls, were included in the studies. FeNO at 50 mL/s was performed in all studies (in study III with an adapted single-breath method with age-adjusted exhalation times). FeNO at multiple exhalation flow rates were performed in studies I, II and IV to calculate alveolar NO, as was spirometry. FOT indices were assessed in study IV.Results: The exhalation time needed to reach steady-state NO was < 4 s in subjects aged 3-4 years, and was related to subject height. FeNO was higher in ICS-naïve asthmatic children than in controls. ICS-naïve asthmatic preschool children had FeNO < 20 ppb. The oral contribution to FeNO was similar in asthmatic and healthy youths. Multiple flow rates and modelling of alveolar NO were feasible in children aged 10-18 years. Alveolar NO correlated to asthma characteristics, though not when axial diffusion correction was applied. FOT resistance measures were associated with asthma diagnosis, and small airway FOT measures were associated with asthma control, in adolescents.Conclusion: An adapted FeNO method is feasible from 4 years, and exhalation time is related to child height. Our findings emphasise the need to refine clinical cut-offs for FeNO in younger children. FOT variables discriminate between asthmatics and controls, much like spirometry. The information provided by FOT is additive to that from spirometry. Further studies of exhaled NO dynamics and FOT indices of small airways are warranted to evaluate new treatment options and possibly improve asthma control.