Recent Advances in Inflammation and Treatment of Small Airways in Asthma

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 May 28;20(11):2617. doi: 10.3390/ijms20112617.


Small airways were historically considered to be almost irrelevant in the development and control of pulmonary chronic diseases but, as a matter of fact, in the past few years we have learned that they are not so "silent". Asthma is still a worldwide health issue due to the great share of patients being far from optimal management. Several studies have shown that the deeper lung inflammation plays a critical role in asthma pathogenesis, mostly in these not well-controlled subjects. Therefore, assessing the degree of small airways inflammation and impairment appears to be a pivotal step in the asthmatic patient's management. It is now possible to evaluate them through direct and indirect measurements, even if some obstacles still affect their clinical application. The success of any treatment obviously depends on several factors but reaching the deeper lung has become a priority and, for inhaled drugs, this is strictly connected to the molecule's size. The aim of the present review is to summarize the recent evidence concerning the small airway involvement in asthma, its physiopathological characteristics and how it can be evaluated in order to undertake a personalized pharmacological treatment and achieve a better disease control.

Keywords: asthma; inflammation; small airways; treatment efficacy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchioles / pathology*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents