Allergy. 2009 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Tillie-Leblond I, Montani D, Crestani B, de Blic J, Humbert M, Tunon-de-Lara M, Magnan A, Roche N, Ostinelli J, Chanez P

Asthma symptoms are the main reason for healthcare utilization and are a fundamental parameter for the evaluation of asthma control. Currently, asthma is defined as a chronic inflammatory disease. A French expert group studied the association between inflammation and asthma symptoms by carrying out a critical review of the international literature. Uncontrolled asthmatics have an increased number of polynuclear eosinophils in the induced sputum and an increased production of exhaled NO. Control by anti-inflammatory treatment is accompanied by a reduction in bronchial eosinophilia and exhaled NO. Asthma symptoms are the result of complex mechanisms and many factors modify their perception. Experimental data suggest that there is a relationship between the perception of symptoms and eosinophilic inflammation and that inhaled corticoid therapy improves this perception. Although they are still not applicable in routine practice, follow-up strategies based on the evaluation of inflammation are thought to be more effective in reducing exacerbations than those usually recommended based on symptoms and sequential analysis of respiratory function. Inhaled corticosteroid therapy is the reference disease-modifying therapy for persistent asthma. Recent studies demonstrated that adjustment of anti-inflammatory treatment based on symptoms is an effective strategy to prevent exacerbations and reduce the total number of doses of inhaled corticosteroids.