Protein found in patients with severe asthma can help identify who would benefit from targeted drugs

Novel study establishes that airways periostin is the expression of type 2 endotype severe asthma and helps identify which patients may benefit from newly developed treatments and improved quality of life, report researchers in the journal CHEST®


Glenview, IL, October 22, 2018

In a novel study, researchers succeeded in identifying patients with a form of severe asthma (type 2 endotype) by measuring periostin concentrations in their airways. These patients with the type 2 (T2) endotype may benefit from newly developed targeted treatments that have the potential to transform their quality of life, report researchers in the journal CHEST®.

Asthma can range from very mild with little or no need for medical treatment to severe and life-threatening. Severe asthma is clinically and biologically varied and identifying the specific type of asthma is crucial in targeting patients who will benefit from new treatment options. The role of periostin, a matricellular protein, in asthma and type 2 inflammatory responses, is an area of active research.

“The T2 immunity severe asthma endotype is one of the most consistent endotypes to emerge probably because it is a key driver in nearly half of all patients with asthma,” explained Giovanna E. Carpagnano, MD, PhD, Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.

Investigators analyzed periostin concentrations in the airways of severely asthmatic subjects, evaluating the role of periostin in clustering the T2 endotype. They enrolled 40 consecutive severe asthmatic patients (25 asthmatics of T2 and 15 of non-T2 endotype); 21 patients with mild to moderate asthma; and 15 healthy control subjects. All individuals underwent exhaled breath condensate and sputum collection, eosinophil count in blood, fractional 32 exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and immunoglobulin E (IgE) measurement. They found that periostin is measurable in the airways and increased in severe asthmatic subjects, especially in those with the T2 endotype.

Graph to illustrate the research findings
Significantly higher levels of periostin were found in severe asthmatics compared with mild to moderate ones and controls. There were significantly higher T2 levels than in non-T2 endotype.

“There have been several studies about the value of periostin as a marker of severe eosinophilic asthma, but to measure it in blood limits its value as serum periostin derives from several sources outside the lung and can’t be considered an organ-specific marker,” noted Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro, MD, Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy, who heads the group where the research was conducted.

“Unlike serum periostin, airways periostin is a useful marker of severe eosinophilic asthma and may help to phenotype patients that will respond to the biologic agents,” stated senior investigator Peter J. Barnes, MD, DSc, FCCP, of the Airway Disease Section, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, UK. “The newly developed biological treatments have the potential to transform the quality of life of patients with T2 severe asthma. This study suggests that airways periostin is the expression of T2 severe asthma and if validated, could be a useful biomarker to apply stratified medicine for severe asthma, and could transform the quality of life of these patients.”

“Severe uncontrolled asthma is an expensive disease that accounts for more than 60 percent of the costs associated with the disease,” commented Prof. Carpagnano. “The newly developed biological treatments are expensive too, but if directed to the right patients, they will significantly reduce the global cost related to the management of severe asthmatic patients.”

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Notes for editors
The article is “Looking for Airways Periostin in Severe Asthma: Could It Be Useful for Clustering Type 2 Endotype?” by Giovanna E. Carpagnano, MD, PhD, Giulia Scioscia, MD, Donato Lacedonia, MD, PhD, Piera Soccio, MSc, Giorgia Lepore, MD, Marina Saetta, MD, FCCP, Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro, MD, and Peter J. Barnes, MD, DSc, FCCP (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2018.08.1032). It will appear in the journal CHEST®, volume 154, issue 5 (November 2018) published by Elsevier.

Full text of this article and interviews with the authors are available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Andrea Camino, American College of Chest Physicians, at +1 224 521 9513 or acamino@chestnet.org.

About the journal CHEST®
The journal CHEST®, the official publication of the American College of Chest Physicians, features the best in peer-reviewed, cutting-edge original research in the multidisciplinary specialties of chest medicine: pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine; thoracic surgery; cardiorespiratory interactions; and related disciplines. Published since 1935, it is home to the highly regarded clinical practice guidelines and consensus statements. Readers find the latest research posted in the Online First section each week and access series that provide insight into relevant clinical areas, such as Recent Advances in Chest Medicine; Topics in Practice Management; Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Pearls; Ultrasound Corner; Chest Imaging and Pathology for Clinicians; and Contemporary Reviews. Point/Counterpoint Editorials and the CHEST Podcasts address controversial issues, fostering discussion among physicians. journal.chestnet.org

About American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST)
CHEST is the global leader in advancing best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education, clinical research and team-based care. Its mission is to champion the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chest diseases through education, communication and research. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000 members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit chestnet.org.

About Elsevier
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Media contact
Andrea Camino
American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)
+1 224 521 9513
acamino@chestnet.org