Measuring Exhaled NO Adds Little to Asthma Treatment

September 19, 2008

Regularly measuring fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) didn't lead to improvement in asthma symptoms or lung function in young patients with asthma, according to research published in the Sept. 20 issue of The Lancet.

FRIDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Regularly measuring fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) didn't lead to improvement in asthma symptoms or lung function in young patients with asthma, according to research published in the Sept. 20 issue of The Lancet.

Stanley J. Szefler, M.D., of National Jewish Health in Denver, and colleagues analyzed data from 546 individuals, aged 12 to 20, who resided in inner cities. Most did not have good control of their asthma symptoms at enrollment. Participants were randomized to receive standard treatment or standard treatment modified with regard to their fraction of exhaled NO (FENO), measured every six to eight weeks.

During 46 weeks of treatment, the mean number of days with asthma symptoms wasn't different between the groups, nor were differences seen in pulmonary function or asthma exacerbations. However, patients in the NO monitoring group received significantly higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids, the researchers report.

"It takes more than one good study to completely rule out potential benefits of a new biomarker. Although Szefler and colleagues' findings convincingly show that addition of FENO measurement to guideline-recommended asthma management will not improve daily asthma control or under-treatment in the population studied, more studies are needed to explore the usefulness of FENO in subgroups of patients with asthma and its treatment-saving potential. Until such data are available, a recommendation to use FENO measurements routinely in patients treated according to guidelines is not ready to be made yet," state the authors of an accompanying commentary.

Two co-authors of the study disclosed relationships with several pharmaceutical companies, as did the commentary authors.

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