Longitudinal stability of asthma characteristics and biomarkers from the Airways Disease Endotyping for Personalized Therapeutics (ADEPT) study

Respir Res. 2016 Apr 23;17:43. doi: 10.1186/s12931-016-0360-5.


Background: Asthma is a biologically heterogeneous disease and development of novel therapeutics requires understanding of pathophysiologic phenotypes. There is uncertainty regarding the stability of clinical characteristics and biomarkers in asthma over time. This report presents the longitudinal stability over 12 months of clinical characteristics and clinically accessible biomarkers from ADEPT.

Methods: Mild, moderate, and severe asthma subjects were assessed at 5 visits over 12 months. Assessments included patient questionnaires, spirometry, bronchodilator reversibility, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), and biomarkers measured in induced sputum.

Results: Mild (n = 52), moderate (n = 55), and severe (n = 51) asthma cohorts were enrolled from North America and Western Europe. For all clinical characteristics and biomarkers, group mean data showed no significant change from visit to visit. However, individual data showed considerable variability. FEV1/FVC ratio showed excellent reproducibility while pre-bronchodilator FEV1 and FVC were only moderately reproducible. Of note bronchodilator FEV1 reversibility showed low reproducibility, with the nonreversible phenotype much more reproducible than the reversible phenotype. The 7-item asthma control questionnaire (ACQ7) demonstrated moderate reproducibility for the combined asthma cohorts, but the uncontrolled asthma phenotype (ACQ7 > 1.5) was inconstant in mild and moderate asthma but stable in severe asthma. FENO demonstrated good reproducibility, with the FENO-low phenotype (FENO < 35 ppb) more stable than the FENO-high phenotype (FENO ≥ 35 ppb). Induced sputum inflammatory phenotypes showed marked variability across the 3 sputum samples taken over 6 months.

Conclusions: The ADEPT cohort showed group stability, individual stability in some parameters e.g. low FEV1/FVC ratio, and low FENO, but marked individual variability in other clinical characteristics and biomarkers e.g. type-2 biomarkers over 12 months. This variability is possibly related to seasonal variations in climate and allergen exposure, medication changes and acute exacerbations. The implications for patient selection strategies based on clinical biomarkers may be considerable.

Keywords: Asthma; Biomarkers; Longitudinal stability; Phenotypes; Profiling; Severity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Function Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sputum / cytology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Bronchodilator Agents