Effectiveness of bronchial thermoplasty in patients with severe refractory asthma: Clinical and histopathologic correlations
The effectiveness of bronchial thermoplasty (BT) has been reported in patients with severe asthma, yet its effect on different bronchial structures remains unknown.Objective:
We sought to examine the effect of BT on bronchial structures and to explore the association with clinical outcome in patients with severe refractory asthma.Methods:
Bronchial biopsy specimens (n = 300) were collected from 15 patients with severe uncontrolled asthma before and 3 months after BT. Immunostained sections were assessed for airway smooth muscle (ASM) area, subepithelial basement membrane thickness, nerve fibers, and epithelial neuroendocrine cells. Histopathologic findings were correlated with clinical parameters.Results:
BT significantly improved asthma control and quality of life at both 3 and 12 months and decreased the numbers of severe exacerbations and the dose of oral corticosteroids. At 3 months, this clinical benefit was accompanied by a reduction in ASM area (median values before and after BT, respectively: 19.7% [25th-75th interquartile range (IQR), 15.9% to 22.4%] and 5.3% [25th-75th IQR], 3.5% to 10.1%,P< .001), subepithelial basement membrane thickening (4.4 μm [25th-75th IQR, 4.0-4.7 μm] and 3.9 μm [25th-75th IQR, 3.7-4.6 μm],P= 0.02), submucosal nerves (1.0 ‰ [25th-75th IQR, 0.7-1.3 ‰] immunoreactivity and 0.3 ‰ [25th-75th IQR, 0.1-0.5 ‰] immunoreactivity,P< .001), ASM-associated nerves (452.6 [25th-75th IQR, 196.0-811.2] immunoreactive pixels per mm2 and 62.7 [25th-75th IQR, 0.0-230.3] immunoreactive pixels per mm2,P= .02), and epithelial neuroendocrine cells (4.9/mm2 [25th-75th IQR, 0-16.4/mm2] and 0.0/mm2 [25th-75th IQR, 0-0/mm2],P= .02). Histopathologic parameters were associated based on Asthma Control Test scores, numbers of exacerbations, and visits to the emergency department (allP≤ .02) 3 and 12 months after BT.Conclusion:
BT is a treatment option in patients with severe therapy-refractory asthma that downregulates selectively structural abnormalities involved in airway narrowing and bronchial reactivity, particularly ASM, neuroendocrine epithelial cells, and bronchial nerve endings.