Mepolizumab improves asthma after 1 year despite comorbidities



Adults with asthma who were newly prescribed mepolizumab showed significant improvement in symptoms after 1 year regardless of comorbidities, based on data from 822 individuals.

Comorbidities including chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps (CRSwNP), gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD), anxiety and depression, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) are common in patients with severe asthma and add to the disease burden, wrote Mark C. Liu, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues.

“Some comorbidities, such as CRSwNP, share pathophysiological mechanisms with severe asthma, with interleukin-5 (IL-5),” and treatments targeting IL-5 could improve outcomes, they said.

In the real-world REALITI-A study, mepolizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets IL-5, significantly reduced asthma exacerbation and oral corticosteroid use in severe asthma patients, they said.

To assess the impact of mepolizumab on patients with comorbidities, the researchers conducted a post hoc analysis of 822 adults with severe asthma, including 321 with CRSwNP, 309 with GERD, 203 with depression/anxiety, and 81 with COPD. The findings were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

The main outcomes were the rate of clinically significant asthma exacerbations (CSEs) between the 12 months before and after mepolizumab initiation, and the changes from baseline in the daily maintenance use of oral corticosteroids (OCS).

Across all comorbidities, the rate of CSEs decreased significantly from the pretreatment period to the follow-up period, from 4.28 events per year to 1.23 events per year.

“A numerically greater reduction in the rate of CSEs was reported for patients with versus without CRSwNP, whereas the reverse was reported for patients with versus without COPD and depression/anxiety, although the confidence intervals were large for the with COPD subgroup,” the researchers wrote.

The median maintenance dose of oral corticosteroids decreased by at least 50% across all comorbidities after mepolizumab treatment; patients with CRSwNP had the greatest reduction (83%).

In addition, scores on the Asthma Control Questionnaire–5 decreased by at least 0.63 points, and least squared (LS) mean changes in forced expiratory volume per second (FEV1) increased from baseline across all comorbidities after mepolizumab treatment by at least 74 mL.

Although patients with versus without CRSwNP had greater improvements, patients without GERD, depression/anxiety, and COPD had greater improvements than did those without the respective conditions with the exception of greater FEV1 improvement in patients with vs. without COPD.

“Patients with severe asthma and comorbid CRSwNP are recognized as having a high disease burden, as demonstrated by more frequent exacerbations,” the researchers wrote in their discussion. “Mepolizumab may serve to reduce the disease burden of this high-risk group by targeting the common pathophysiological pathway of IL-5 and eosinophilic-driven inflammation because it has proven clinical benefits in treating asthma and CRSwNP separately and together,” and the current study findings support the use of mepolizumab for this population in particular, they said.

The findings were limited by several factors including the incomplete data for voluntary assessments, the post hoc design and relatively small numbers of patients in various subgroups, notably COPD, and the potential inaccurate diagnosis of COPD, the researchers noted.

“Nevertheless, because the amount of improvement in each outcome following mepolizumab treatment differed depending on the comorbidity in question, our findings highlight the impact that comorbidities and their prevalence and severity have on outcomes,” and the overall success of mepolizumab across clinical characteristics and comorbidities supports the generalizability of the findings to the larger population of adults with severe asthma, they concluded.

The study was supported by GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Liu disclosed research funding from GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Gossamer Bio, and participation on advisory boards for AstraZeneca, GSK, and Gossamer Bio.

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