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A review on the pathophysiology of asthma remission.

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Published:31st Aug 2019
Author: Carpaij OA, Burgess JK, Kerstjens HAM, Nawijn MC, van den Berge M.
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Ref.:Pharmacol Ther. 2019;201:8-24.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition, which is highly prevalent worldwide. Although no cure is currently available, it is well recognized that some asthma patients can spontaneously enter remission of the disease later in life. Asthma remission is characterized by absence of symptoms and lack of asthma-medication use. Subjects in asthma remission can be divided into two groups: those in clinical remission and those in complete remission. In clinical asthma remission, subjects still have a degree of lung functional impairment or bronchial hyperresponsiveness, while in complete asthma remission, these features are no longer present. Over longer periods, the latter group is less likely to relapse. This remission group is of great scientific interest due to the higher potential to find biomarkers or biological pathways that elicit or are associated with asthma remission.

Despite the fact that the definition of asthma remission varies between studies, some factors are reproducibly observed to be associated with remitted asthma. Among these are lower levels of inflammatory markers, which are lowest in complete remission. Additionally, in both groups some degree of airway remodeling is present. Still, the pathological disease state of asthma remission has been poorly investigated. Future research should focus on at least two aspects: further characterisation of the small airways and airway walls in order to determine histologically true remission, and more thorough biological pathway analyses to explore triggers that elicit this phenomenon. Ultimately, this will result in pharmacological targets that provide the potential to steer the course of asthma towards remission.


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