Purpose: Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) has emerged as an important biomarker in asthma. Increasing evidence points to atopy as a confounding factor in the interpretation of elevated FeNO. We conducted a longitudinal study to understand the clinical significance of FeNO as an inflammatory biomarker. Methods: We identified 19 children aged 13-15 years at baseline with a significant elevation in FeNO ≥ 80 parts per billion (ppb) and randomly selected a group of children of similar age with a moderate elevation (40-79 ppb) and normal-to-low FeNO (<40 ppb). Between November 2010 and July 2011, three additional study visits were conducted. Results: Ninety-three children participated in the study. There were 16, 24, and 53 participants in the high, mid, and low FeNO groups. During 1.5 years of follow-up, mean FeNO levels were 82.6 ppb (standard deviation [SD] = 65.9) for atopic asthmatics, 50.6 ppb (SD = 42.6) for nonasthmatic atopics, 17.0 ppb (SD = 10.8) for nonatopic asthmatics, and 17.8 ppb (SD = 13.9) for nonatopic nonasthmatics (p < 0.001). FeNO levels remained stable: 63 % of the high FeNO group had a FeNO ≥ 80 across all 4 measurements and 87 % of the normal-to-low FeNO group had a FeNO of <40 across all 4 measurements. The high FeNO group also was found to have an elevation in IL-5 (p = 0.04), IL-6 (p = 0.003), IL-10 (p = 0.002), and total serum IgE (p < 0.001), after adjustment by age, sex, height, body mass index, and atopy and asthma status. Conclusions: An elevation of FeNO appears to indicate an atopic phenotype regardless of an asthma diagnosis, clinical symptoms, or corticosteroid use. An elevation of FeNO also is associated with a systemic elevation in inflammatory cytokines.
- Exhaled nitric oxide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine