Management based on exhaled nitric oxide levels adjusted for atopy reduces asthma exacerbations in children: A dual centre randomized controlled trial

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 Jun;50(6):535-43. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23064. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


While several randomized control trials (RCTs) have evaluated the use of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) to improve asthma outcomes, none used FeNO cut-offs adjusted for atopy, a determinant of FeNO levels. In a dual center RCT, we assessed whether a treatment strategy based on FeNO levels, adjusted for atopy, reduces asthma exacerbations compared with the symptoms-based management (controls). Children with asthma from hospital clinics of two hospitals were randomly allocated to receive an a-priori determined treatment hierarchy based on symptoms or FeNO levels. There was a 2-week run-in period and they were then reviewed 10 times over 12-months. The primary outcome was the number of children with exacerbations over 12-months. Sixty-three children were randomized (FeNO = 31, controls = 32); 55 (86%) completed the study. Although we did achieve our planned sample size, significantly fewer children in the FeNO group (6 of 27) had an asthma exacerbation compared to controls (15 of 28), P = 0.021; number to treat for benefit = 4 (95% CI 3-24). There was no difference between groups for any secondary outcomes (quality of life, symptoms, FEV1 ). The final daily inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) dose was significantly (P = 0.037) higher in the FeNO group (median 400 µg, IQR 250-600) compared to the controls (200, IQR100-400). Taking atopy into account when using FeNO to tailor asthma medications is likely beneficial in reducing the number of children with severe exacerbations at the expense of increased ICS use. However, the strategy is unlikely beneficial for improving asthma control. A larger study is required to confirm or refute our findings.

Keywords: FeNO; asthma; atopy; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Breath Tests
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Budesonide / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Fluticasone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Budesonide
  • Fluticasone