Role of biomarkers in understanding and treating children with asthma: towards personalized care

Pharmgenomics Pers Med. 2013 Aug 21:6:73-84. doi: 10.2147/PGPM.S30626.


Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children. Despite publicized expert panels on asthma management and the availability of high-potency inhaled corticosteroids, asthma continues to pose an enormous burden on quality of life for children. Research into the genetic and molecular origins of asthma are starting to show how distinct disease entities exist within the syndrome of "asthma". Biomarkers can be used to diagnose underlying molecular mechanisms that can predict the natural course of disease or likely response to drug treatment. The progress of personalized medicine in the care of children with asthma is still in its infancy. We are not yet able to apply stratified asthma treatments based on molecular phenotypes, although that time may be fast approaching. This review discusses some of the recent advances in asthma genetics and the use of current biomarkers that can help guide improved treatment. For example, the fraction of expired nitric oxide and serum Immunoglobulin E (IgE) (including allergen-specific IgE), when evaluated in the context of recurrent asthma symptoms, are general predictors of allergic airway inflammation. Biomarker assays for secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and cysteinyl leukotrienes are both promising areas of study that can help personalize management, not just for pharmacologic management, but also education and prevention efforts.

Keywords: asthma; biomarkers; children; management.

Publication types

  • Review