Background: Some patients present clinical features of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which has led to the recent proposal of asthma-COPD overlap (ACO) as a diagnosis. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a candidate biomarker to diagnose ACO. We assessed the effect of an add-on treatment with budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FM) combination in patients with ACO, which was diagnosed by FeNO. Methods: This was a prospective, single-arm, open-label, before and after comparison study. Subjects included 83 patients with COPD who attended outpatient clinics for routine checkups at Shizuoka General Hospital between June and November 2016. All patients fulfilled the GOLD definition of COPD and were receiving long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) or LAMA/long-acting β2 agonist (LABA) combinations. After an 8-week run-in period, BUD/FM was added to the patients with FeNO levels of ≥35 ppb, defined as having ACO. For patients receiving LAMA/LABA, BUD/FM was added after the discontinuation of LABA. The modified British Medical Research Council (mMRC) score, COPD assessment test (CAT) score, spirometric indices, forced oscillation parameters, and FeNO were assessed before and after 8 weeks of BUD/ FM add-on treatment. Results: Twenty-four patients (28.9%) had FeNO levels ≥ 35 ppb, and 17 patients completed the study (mean age: 73 years and GOLD I/II/III/IV, 5/10/1/1). The mean CAT scores significantly improved (9.2 to 5.4, p = 0.015) and 10 patients (58.8%) showed ≥2 points improvement, a minimal clinically important difference. The mean FeNO levels significantly decreased from 63.0 to 34.3 ppb (p < 0.006). However, there were no changes in mMRC scores, spirometric indices, or forced oscillation parameters. Conclusions: FeNO-guided treatment with BUD/FM improves symptoms in patients with ACO.
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