Plasma P-Selectin Is Inversely Associated with Lung Function and Corticosteroid Responsiveness in Asthma

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2020;181(11):879-887. doi: 10.1159/000509600. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


Background: Severe asthma has multiple phenotypes for which biomarkers are still being defined. Plasma P-selectin reports endothelial and/or platelet activation.

Objective: To determine if P-selectin is associated with features of asthma in a longitudinal study.

Methods: Plasmas from 70 adult patients enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) III at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were analyzed for concentration of P-selectin at several points over the course of 3 years, namely, at baseline (BPS), after intramuscular triamcinolone acetonide (TA) injection, and at 36 months after baseline. Thirty-four participants also came in during acute exacerbation and 6 weeks after exacerbation.

Results: BPS correlated inversely with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and with residual volume/total lung capacity, an indicator of air trapping. BPS was inversely associated with FEV1 change after TA, by regression analysis. FEV1 did not change significantly after TA if BPS was above the median, whereas patients with BPS below the median had significantly increased FEV1 after TA. BPS was higher in and predicted assignment to SARP phenotype cluster 5 ("severe fixed-airflow asthma"). P-selectin was modestly but significantly increased at exacerbation but returned to baseline within 3 years.

Conclusions: High BPS is associated with airway obstruction, air trapping, the "severe fixed-airflow" cluster, and lack of FEV1 improvement in response to TA injection. P-selectin concentration, which is a stable trait with only modest elevation during exacerbation, may be a useful biomarker for a severe asthma pheno- or endotype characterized by low pulmonary function and lack of corticosteroid responsiveness.

Keywords: Asthma; Corticosteroid; Exacerbation; Lung function; P-selectin; Phenotype.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers, Pharmacological
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • P-Selectin / blood*
  • Phenotype
  • Platelet Activation
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Pharmacological
  • P-Selectin