T2-high Asthma, Classified by Sputum mRNA Expression of , , and , is Characterized by Eosinophilia and Severe Phenotype.
Asthma is a common chronic disease, with different underlying inflammatory mechanisms. Identification of asthma endotypes, which reflect a variable response to different treatments, is important for more precise asthma management. T2 asthma is characterized by airway inflammation driven by T2 cytokines including interleukins IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. This study aimed to determine whether induced sputum samples can be used for gene expression profiling of T2-high asthma classified by , and expression. Induced sputum samples were obtained from 44 subjects, among them 36 asthmatic patients and eight controls, and mRNA expression levels of , , and were quantified by RT-qPCR. Overall, gene expression levels of , , and were significantly increased in asthmatic patients’ samples compared to controls and there was a high positive correlation between expressions of all three genes. T2 gene mean was calculated by combining the expression levels of all three genes (, , and ) and according to T2 gene mean expression in controls, we set a T2-high/T2-low cutoff value. Twenty-four (67%) asthmatic patients had T2-high endotype and those patients had significantly higher eosinophil blood and sputum counts. Furthermore, T2-high endotype was characterized as a more severe, difficult-to-treat asthma, and often uncontrolled despite the use of inhaled and/or oral corticosteroids. Therefore, the majority of those patients (15 [63%] of 24) needed adjunct biological therapy to control their asthma symptoms/exacerbations. In conclusion, we found that interleukins , and transcripts could be effectively detected in sputum from asthmatic patients. Implementation of T2 gene mean can be used as sputum molecular biomarker to categorize patients into T2-high endotype, characterized by eosinophilia and severe, difficult-to-treat asthma, and often with a need for biological treatment.