What lessons can be learned about asthma phenotypes in children from cohort studies?

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2015 Jun;26(4):300-5. doi: 10.1111/pai.12359.


'Phenotyping' asthma by multivariate analyses and more recently by unsupervised analysis has been performed in children cohorts. We describe the key findings that have emerged from these cohorts. It would appear that there are three wheeze phenotypes in children of preschool age: the mild episodic viral wheeze phenotype; the multitrigger atopic wheeze; and, less often encountered, the severe non-atopic wheeze. Early onset of allergy in asthma (more prevalent in boys) is associated with poor prognosis unlike the severe non-atopic wheeze phenotype which has a female predominance. The prognosis of the severe non-atopic wheeze depends on time of onset (early or late) of allergic expression. At school age, the risk of severe asthmatic exacerbations is associated with eosinophil predominant inflammation frequently related to allergic asthma, whereas neutrophil inflammation is associated with moderate-to-severe asthma with poorer lung function. Nevertheless, allergic asthma is also a heterogeneous disease with a severe allergic phenotype strongly associated with atopic dermatitis and very high eosinophil-driven inflammatory markers. Further studies are required to find non-invasive biological markers in very young children to better define wheezing phenotypes associated with an elevated risk of developing severe asthma with a view to personalizing treatment.

Keywords: Allergy; Asthma; Phenotype; children; cohort.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype*