Biomarkers of asthma

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Biomarkers may be diagnostic of asthma, they may predict or reflect response to therapy or they may identify patients at risk of asthma exacerbation. A biomarker is most often measured in biologic fluids that are sampled using relatively non-invasive sampling techniques such as blood, sputum, urine or exhaled breath. Biomarkers should be stable, readily quantifiable and their measurement should be reproducible and not confounded by other host factors, or the presence of comorbidities. However, asthma comprises multiple molecular endotypes and single, sensitive, specific, biomarkers reflecting these endotypes may not exist. Combining biomarkers may improve their predictive capability in asthma. The most well-established endotypes are those described as Type2 and non-Type2 asthma. Clinical trials established the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and blood eosinophil counts as key biomarkers of response to corticosteroid or targeted anti-inflammatory therapy in Type2 asthma. However, these biomarkers may have limited value in the management of asthma in real-life settings or routine clinical practise. Biomarkers for Type2 asthma are not well described or validated and more research is needed. Breathomics has provided evidence to propose a number of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as surrogate biomarkers for airway inflammatory phenotypes, disease activity and adherence to therapy. Analysis of urinary eicosanoids has identified eicosanoids related to Type2 and non-Type2 inflammation. Future clinical trials will be important in determining how exhaled VOCs or urinary eicosanoid profiles can be used to direct precision treatments. Their future clinical use will also depend on developing simplified instrumentation for biomarker analysis at the point-of-care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-78
JournalMinerva Medica
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Asthma
  • Biomarkers
  • Anti-inflammatory agents


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