Background: Children with asthma exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) might be at higher risk for severe exacerbations, but biomarkers of susceptibility to SHS exposure have not been previously reported.
Objectives: We sought to assess the usefulness of urinary leukotriene E(4) (uLTE₄) levels in the prediction of increased risk of severe asthma exacerbations requiring emergency department (ED) or urgent care (UC) visits.
Methods: Forty-four schoolchildren with moderate-to-severe asthma receiving inhaled corticosteroids were followed for 5 months with repeated measurements of uLTE₄ and monitoring of ED and UC visits. SHS exposure status was determined by using prestudy questionnaires and repeated measurements of urinary cotinine during the study.
Results: Nine (45%) of 20 children with SHS exposure experienced a severe exacerbation requiring an ED or UC visit compared with 3 (12.5%) of 24 children without significant SHS exposure (relative risk, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.1-11.5; P = .02). The uLTE₄ level was a significant predictor of exacerbation risk in children exposed to SHS (area under the curve, 0.85; P = .003). Other predictors, such as nighttime symptom frequency, prebronchodilator and postbronchodilator lung function, and exhaled nitric oxide levels, were not related to exacerbations in this group. uLTE₄ levels at or greater than 106 pg/mg achieved 67% (6/9) sensitivity and 100% (11/11) specificity for predicting children with SHS exposure who required an ED or UC visit.
Conclusions: Children exposed to SHS are at increased risk for severe asthma exacerbations, despite use of inhaled corticosteroids. uLTE₄ levels identify children exposed to SHS at high risk for asthma exacerbations.
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.