Introduction: Inhaled corticosteroid therapy (ICS) for asthma is currently modified according to symptoms and lung function. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) has been demonstrated to be a non-invasive marker of eosinophilic inflammation. Studies of FENO-driven asthma management show variable success. Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate whether monitoring FENO can improve outpatient management of children with moderate to severe asthma using a pragmatic design.
Methods: Children aged 6–17 years with moderate to severe asthma were recruited. Their asthma was stabilised before randomisation to FENO-driven therapy or to a standard management group where therapy was driven by conventional markers of asthma control. ICS or long-acting bronchodilator therapies were altered according to FENO levels in combination with reported symptoms in the FENO group. Participants were assessed 2 monthly for 12 months. ICS dose and exacerbation frequency change were compared between groups in an intention to treat analysis.
Results: Ninety children were randomised. No difference was found between the two groups in either change in corticosteroid dose or exacerbation frequency. Results were similar in a planned secondary analysis of atopic asthmatics.
Conclusion: FENO-guided ICS titration does not appear to reduce corticosteroid usage or exacerbation frequency in paediatric outpatients with moderate to severe asthma. This may reflect limitations in FENO-driven management algorithms, as there are now concerns that FENO levels relate to atopy as much as they relate to asthma control.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.