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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • breath condensate;
  • eosinophils;
  • hormones;
  • menopause;
  • neutrophils;
  • nitric oxide;
  • pH

To cite this article: Foschino Barbaro MP, Costa VR, Resta O, Prato R, Spanevello A, Palladino GP, Martinelli D, Carpagnano GE. Menopausal asthma: a new biological phenotype? Allergy 2010; 65: 1306–1312.

Abstract

Background:  Female hormones play an important role in women’s lung health, especially in asthma pathophysiology. Although a growing interest has recently been aroused in asthma related to short-term reproductive states, menopausal asthma has been little studied in the past. The aim of the present study was to explore airway inflammation in menopausal asthmatic women in a noninvasive manner.

Methods:  Forty consecutive women with menopausal asthma, 35 consecutive women with premenopausal asthma and 30 age-matched healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Urinary LTE-4, induced sputum inflammatory cells, and exhaled LTE-4, IL-6, pH, and NO levels were measured in all the subjects enrolled.

Results:  Women with menopausal asthma showed decreased estradiol concentrations, high sputum neutrophils, and exhaled IL-6. Women with premenopausal asthma presented instead an essentially eosinophilic inflammatory pattern. Higher urine and breath condensate LTE-4 concentrations were found in premenopausal and menopausal asthma compared to controls.

Conclusion:  Our results substantiate the existence of a new biological phenotype of menopausal asthma that is mainly characterized by neutrophilic airways inflammation and shares several characteristics of the severe asthma phenotype.