Associations between fluctuations in lung function and asthma control in two populations with differing asthma severity

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Lung function is a major criterion used to assess asthma control. Fluctuation analyses can account for lung function history over time, and may provide an additional dimension to characterise control. The relationships between mean and fluctuations in lung function with asthma control, exacerbation and quality of life were studied in two independent data sets.


Data from 132 adults with mild to moderate asthma and 159 adults with severe asthma were analysed separately. Fluctuations in twice-daily peak expiratory flow (PEF) over 6 months were measured by α, representing the strength of correlation with past lung function and potentially asthma stability. α and mean percentage predicted PEF (%predPEF) were plotted with and compared between patients grouped by asthma control defined by recent GINA (Global Initiative for Asthma) guidelines, the Asthma Control Questionnaire score, exacerbations and Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire score. Associations of α and %predPEF with these outcomes were examined using multiple regression analyses.


Both α and %predPEF differed with and were significantly associated with GINA-defined asthma control in both the mild to moderate and severe asthma groups. Only α was related to whether or not exacerbations occurred in mild to moderate asthma, while %predPEF was more significantly related than α in severe asthma. In those with severe asthma, only %predPEF was significantly related to Asthma Control Questionnaire and Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire scores.


Lung function history quantified by fluctuation analysis provides additional information to mean lung function, and may help characterise the current state of asthma control. It may also potentially aid in phenotyping clinical asthma.

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