Air trapping in mild and moderate asthma: effect of inhaled corticosteroids

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Mar;119(3):583-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.11.005. Epub 2007 Jan 3.


Background: Air trapping reflects small airway obstruction in asthma and can be assessed quantitatively by high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT). Hydrofluoroalkane-beclomethasone dipropionate (HFA-BDP) is deposited across all sizes of airways, including the small ones. However, its long-term effect on air trapping remains unknown in uncontrolled asthma.

Objectives: To compare the effect of inhaled corticosteroids of different particle size - HFA-BDP and fluticasone propionate (FP) - on lung attenuation in mild-to-moderate uncontrolled asthma.

Methods: A randomized study was performed to analyze the effect of HFA-BDP (400 microg/d) or FP (500 microg/d) given over a period of 3 months to patients with uncontrolled mild-to-moderate asthma. HRCT was performed with spirometric gating, and lung attenuation was measured at residual volume and at pulmonary total capacity. The difference between inspiratory and expiratory attenuation was calculated as an air trapping index.

Results: Twenty-five out of 58 patients had abnormal air trapping and could be included in the study. Lung attenuation significantly diminished in the posterior zones of the lung after a 3-month treatment with HFA-BDP or FP, but the difference between the groups was not significant. Adjusted mean variations of the air trapping index from baseline to treatment completion were 34.3 (11.2, 57.3) and 27.3 (6.4, 48.2) for the HFA-BDP and FP groups, respectively. However, the reduction of air trapping area was more pronounced in the group treated with HFA-BDP.

Conclusion: Inhaled corticosteroids decrease air trapping in uncontrolled asthma regardless of their particle size.

Clinical implications: In mild-to-moderate asthma, air trapping assessed by HRCT may be a new outcome related to the control of the disease.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Airway Obstruction / drug therapy*
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Beclomethasone / administration & dosage
  • Beclomethasone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Beclomethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Bronchospirometry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Particle Size
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Beclomethasone