Leukotriene B4 Levels in Sputum from Asthma Patients

Leukotriene B4 levels are higher in the sputum of some asthma patients than in others, according to the results of a recent study.

Leukotriene B4 levels are higher in the sputum of some asthma patients, according to the results of a recent study. The study was published in the journal ERJ Open Research, and was conducted by Andrew Higham, PhD, of the Center for Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, at the Institute of Inflammation and Repair, at the University of Manchester and the University of South Manchester in Manchester, UK, and colleagues.

The authors state the aim of the study is to “investigate LTB4 levels in PBS processed sputum supernatants of patients with asthma compared to controls, and the relationship between LTB4 levels and disease activity.”

The researchers recruited 47 patients and 12 healthy controls. Patients were divided into categories based on their treatment stage according to the Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA), where step 1 is a short-acting B-agonist, step 2 is inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), and step 3 is the previous two combined.

The participants attended a single visit, during which they gave a medical history, underwent a physical examination, completed a questionnaire, and then, the researchers say that in strict order they “exhaled nitric oxide, spirometry and reversibility, and sputum induction with hypertonic saline.”

One finding described by the researchers was that “Univariate analysis and partial correlation analysis found no significant associations between LTB4 levels in PBS processed sputum and measurements of asthma severity.” However, they also “observed significant differences between asthma subgroups in the levels of sputum LTB4.”

“GINA step 1 and 3 patients had the highest LTB4 levels,” say the researchers. They believe the use of ICSs impact the LTB4 levels in step 2 patients. “In conclusion, our results indicate that sputum LTB4 levels are raised in a subgroup of asthma patients,” report the authors. Future studies may show that LTB4 levels could be used to identify a subgroup patients who “may benefit from specific therapies targeted against LTB4 production.”

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