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Introduction to Asthma and Phenotyping

  • Regina A. Pillai
  • William J. CalhounEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 795)

Abstract

Asthma is a heterogeneous disease process that is characterized by three cardinal features: (1) chronic inflammation of the airways leading to (2) variable airflow obstruction and (3) airway hyperresponsiveness (NHLBI 2007). Over the past two decades, there has been a rise in asthma prevalence, such that about 8 % of the population in 2010 and more than 25 million Americans are affected (Akinbami et al. 2012). The clinical presentation varies in degree of severity, but common symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough (NHLBI 2007). There has been a steady increase in asthma prevalence from 2001 to 2010 which is particularly marked in the pediatric population; children have required increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations (Akinbami et al. 2012). Despite the overwhelming prevalence of asthma worldwide, extensive healthcare costs and immense economic burden, a detailed understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of asthma, particularly those features leading to variable expression of disease (recognized as clinical phenotypes) remains to be developed (Bousquet and Khaltaev 2007). Asthma affects industrialized nations as well underdeveloped countries, and similar phenotypes have been recognized across these borders (Weiss et al. 1992). Recent investigations have noted distinct clinical asthma phenotypes, but the characteristics that separate these phenotypes overlap significantly, including those factors that contribute to the difficulty in clinical management of these patients (Calhoun et al. 2003).

Keywords

Asthma Heterogeneity Clinical phenotypes Clusters Physiology Treatment Molecular phenotype Induced phenotype 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA

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