Biomarker-guided withdrawal of inhaled corticosteroids in asthma patients with a non-T2 inflammatory phenotype - a randomized controlled trial study protocol

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BACKGROUND: Non-T2 asthma is characterized by the absence of elevated type 2 inflammatory biomarkers such as blood-eosinophils, total and allergen-specific Immunoglobulin E and Fractional exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO). According to guidelines, inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the cornerstone of asthma management. However, ICS treatment is associated with a risk of local side effects, including hoarseness and thrush, and long-term high-dose therapy may cause systemic adverse effects. Furthermore, whereas treatment with ICS is highly effective in T2 asthma, studies have shown a markedly reduced ICS efficacy in patients with a lower degree of T2 inflammation, thus posing a clinical challenge in this subgroup of patients. Hence, owing to the ICS dosage step-up approach in current clinical guidelines, patients with low T2 biomarkers are at risk of being exposed to high doses of ICS, and by that at risk of side effects. Thus, an ICS-treatment regime guided by biomarkers that reflects the inflammatory phenotype is warranted in order to reduce the corticosteroid burden in patients with non-T2 asthma. This study combines a panel of non-T2 inflammatory markers (low periostin, low blood-eosinophils, and low FeNO), to determine if this group of patients can maintain asthma control during ICS withdrawal.

METHODS: This is an ongoing prospective multicenter open-label randomized, controlled trial aiming to assess if ICS can be safely tapered in patients with non-T2 asthma. The patients are randomized 1:1 to either standard of care or an ICS tapering regimen (n = 55 in each group) where the initial ICS dose is reduced by 50% for 8 weeks followed by total ICS removal. The primary endpoint is change in asthma control questionnaire (ACQ) from baseline to post-tapered ICS. The secondary endpoints are time from baseline to drop-out caused by loss of asthma control, changes in serum-periostin, blood-eosinophils, FeNO, Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 s (FEV1) and in sputum-eosinophils.

DISCUSSION: This study aims to provide data on ICS tapering in non-T2 asthma patients and to contribute to a more individualized and corticosteroid-sparing treatment regime in this group of patients.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT03141424. Registration date: May 5th, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article number372
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)372
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023


  • Asthma
  • Asthma control questionnaire
  • Biomarker-guided therapy
  • ICS tapering
  • Non-T2
  • Periostin
  • Randomized controlled trial


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