American Journal of Respiratory Medicine

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 11–19 | Cite as

Clinical Usefulness of Inflammatory Markers in Asthma

  • Peter A. B. Wark
  • Peter G. GibsonEmail author
Leading Article


Asthma is a significant and increasing health problem. Airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness are key pathophysiological mechanisms underlying asthma. Currently, effective treatments target these two processes and can lead to clinically important improvements in disease control. At present, decisions to initiate or modify therapy are based on symptoms and measures of airway caliber, with no direct assessment of airway inflammation or hyperresponsiveness. It is now possible to measure airway inflammation using noninvasive markers such as exhaled gases, induced sputum and serum measurements. Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) and induced sputum eosinophils show the greatest promise as clinically useful markers of airway inflammation in asthma. Induced sputum can now be applied to the diagnosis of airway diseases, based on its ability to detect eosinophilic bronchitis in cough, and to differentiate between eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic asthma. The place of induced sputum and eNO in the ongoing monitoring of patients with asthma are now being investigated in controlled trials.


Asthma Airway Inflammation Airway Hyperresponsiveness Eosinophil Cationic Protein Exhalation Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors’ research is supported by National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia, British Medical Association, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Asthma NSW, and the Hunter Medical Research Institute. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Division, Respiratory Cell and Molecular BiologySouthampton General HospitalSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, John Hunter HospitalThe University of Newcastle, and Hunter Medical Research InstituteNewcastleAustralia

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