The understanding that asthma pathophysiology includes an inflammatory component has spurred the more aggressive use of anti-inflammatory therapies and created a need for effective tools to measure inflammation. Biomarkers of airway inflammation proposed are obtained by methods that are direct but highly invasive (bronchial biopsy, bronchoalveolar lavage), moderately direct, and less invasive (indirect sputum, exhaled air, breath condensate) or indirect and least invasive (blood, urine). Several studies described in this review have implicated the cysteinyl leukotrienes (CysLTs) as inflammatory mediators in a wide range of diseases, implying that their biological activities reach far beyond acute bronchoconstriction, the activity traditionally ascribed to them. The validity of examining sputum for "biomarkers" has improved the understanding of asthma pathophysiology, optimization of asthma treatment and management, and investigation of the relation between CysLTs and airway inflammation in asthma. Nitric oxide is also a surrogate marker of asthma and reflects airway inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of the leukotriene receptor antagonists and the markers of their activity continue to grow.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2003, Vol 111, Issue 1 Suppl