In asthma patients, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the lung clearance index (LCI) have revealed persistent ventilation heterogeneity, although its relationship to asthma control is not well understood. Therefore, our goal was to explore the relationship of MRI ventilation defects and the LCI with asthma control and quality of life in patients with severe, poorly controlled asthma.
18 patients with severe, poorly controlled asthma (mean±
sd46±12 years, six males/12 females) provided written informed consent to an ethics board approved protocol, and underwent spirometry, LCI and 3He MRI during a single 2-h visit. Asthma control and quality of life were evaluated using the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) and Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ). Ventilation heterogeneity was quantified using the LCI and 3He MRI ventilation defect percent (VDP).
All participants reported poorly controlled disease (mean±
sdACQ score=2.3±0.9) and highly heterogeneous ventilation (mean± sdVDP=12±11% and LCI=10.5±3.0). While VDP and LCI were strongly correlated (r=0.86, p<0.0001), in a multivariate model that included forced expiratory volume in 1 s, VDP and LCI, VDP was the only independent predictor of asthma control (R2=0.38, p=0.01). There was also a significantly worse VDP, but not LCI in asthma patients with an ACQ score >2 (p=0.04) and AQLQ score <5 (p=0.04), and a trend towards worse VDP (p=0.053), but not LCI in asthma patients reporting ≥1 exacerbation in the past 6 months.
In patients with poorly controlled, severe asthma MRI ventilation, but not LCI was significantly worse in those with worse ACQ and AQLQ.