Noneosinophilic asthma: a distinct clinical and pathologic phenotype

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 May;119(5):1043-52; quiz 1053-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.02.042.


The use of induced sputum to assess airway inflammation in large and diverse populations with asthma has led to the recognition that significant numbers of patients do not have evidence of eosinophilic airway inflammation. The absence of a sputum eosinophilia has been noted in patients across the range of asthma severity; it has also been reported in patients presenting with an asthma exacerbation. However, whether noneosinophilic asthma represents a pathologically distinct and clinically important asthma phenotype remains unclear. In this review, we present recent evidence suggesting that noneosinophilic asthma represents a stable phenotype associated with a distinct lower airway pathology and structure. We suggest that this lower airway inflammation develops in response to etiologic factors acting through the innate immune pathway and that elements of this immune response contribute to airway dysfunction. Finally, we argue that noneosinophilic asthma is associated with clinically important differences in natural history and treatment response. We particularly highlight evidence that noneosinophilic asthma is associated with a reduced short-term and long-term response to corticosteroid therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Eosinophilia / immunology
  • Eosinophilia / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Phenotype


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents