Treatment guidelines for asthma have been established based on asthma severity; there are limitations in the identification of underlying pathophysiology and prediction of prognosis in heterogeneous phenotypes of asthma. Although the complex interactions between environmental and genetic factors affect the development and progression of asthma, studies on asthma phenotypes considering environmental factors are limited. This study aimed to identify asthma phenotypes using latent class analysis including environmental factors in school-age children.
We included 235 children (6–8 years) with parent-reported, physician-diagnosed asthma from the Children’s HEalth and Environmental Research (CHEER) study, which is a 4-year prospective follow-up study with 2-year intervals. At every survey, pulmonary function tests, methacholine challenge tests and blood tests with questionnaire were conducted.
Four asthma phenotypes were identified. Cluster 1 (22% of children) was characterized by high prevalence of atopy and mild symptoms; subjects in cluster 2 (17%) consisted of less atopy and normal lung function, but intermittent troublesome; cluster 3 (29%) experienced late-onset atopic troublesome asthma with decreased lung function in combination with low socioeconomic status; and cluster 4 was associated with early-onset and less-atopic infrequent asthma.
Late-onset, high atopy, and low socioeconomic status are associated with troublesome persistent asthma phenotype in school-age children. Environmental factors might be implicated in the clinical heterogeneity of asthma. Asthma phenotypes considering diverse factors might be more helpful in the identification of asthma pathogenesis and its prevention.