Sputum Type 2 Markers Could Predict Remission in Severe Asthma Treated With Anti-IL-5

Biotherapies targeting IL-5 allow a tangible improvement of asthma. However, all patients do not respond the same way to these treatments. Even if high blood eosinophil counts seem to be associated with a reduction in exacerbations with treatment targeting IL-5, we lack biomarkers for the prediction of remission after these very expensive treatments.
Research Question
Does the sputum of patients with severe eosinophilic asthma show biomarkers of remission after therapy targeting IL-5?

Study Design and Methods
This observational study included 52 patients with severe asthma initiated with anti-IL-5 therapy and recruited from the asthma clinic of the CHU of Liege, Belgium. Remission was defined as patients who combined the following at 1 year after therapy: no chronic treatment with oral corticosteroids; no exacerbation; asthma control questionnaire score < 1.5, asthma control test score > 19, or both; FEV1 of ≥ 80% predicted, improvement of FEV1 of ≥ 10%, or both; and a blood eosinophil count < 300 cells/μL. Eosinophil peroxidase (EPX), IgE, IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, IL-33, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), and eotaxin-1 levels were measured in the sputum of these patients before anti-IL-5 treatment.

Among the 52 patients, 11 were classified as being in remission. These patients were characterized by higher sputum eosinophil, macrophage, and lymphocyte counts, whereas the sputum neutrophil percentage was lower than in the nonremission group. In addition, the sputum eotaxin-1, TSLP, IL-5, EPX, and IgE protein levels were higher at baseline in the remission group compared with the nonremission group. Univariate regression analysis revealed that male vs female sex, sputum neutrophil percentage, eotaxin-1, IL-5, and EPX were potential predictors of remission.

Sputum type 2 markers seemed to be potentially predictive of remission after anti-IL-5 therapy in a cohort of patients with severe eosinophilic asthma. These results need validation on a larger cohort.