Targeted Therapy for Older Patients with Uncontrolled Severe Asthma: Current and Future Prospects

Emmely de Roos, JCCM in't Veen, GJ (Gert-Jan) Braunstahl, Lies Lahousse, Guy Brusselle

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Severe asthma in the elderly places a high burden on affected individuals and society. Emerging therapies target specific phenotypes of the asthma disease spectrum, and can be beneficial for older asthmatics, albeit their response might be altered due to age-related characteristics. Paradoxically, these characteristics are often ground for exclusion from clinical trials. The question thus arises how the senior asthmatic population can successfully enter the era of targeted therapy. Therefore, we highlight characteristics of this population relevant to effective treatment, and review the evidence for targeted therapy in elderly patients. For targeted therapy it is important to account for aging, as this affects the distribution of phenotypes (e.g. late-onset asthma, non-eosinophilic asthma) and may alter biomarkers and drug metabolism. Elderly asthmatics suffer from age-related comorbidities and subsequent polypharmacy. A systematic search into targeted asthma therapy yielded no randomized clinical trials dedicated to older asthmatics. Post hoc analyses of the anti-immunoglobulin E agent omalizumab indicate similar efficacy in both younger and older adults. Conference abstracts on anti-interleukin-5 and anti-interleukin-13 therapy suggest even more pronounced effects of targeted treatments in late-onset disease and in asthmatic patients 65 years or older, but full reports are lacking. For non-eosinophilic asthma in the elderly, there is not yet high-level evidence for targeted therapy, but macrolides may offer a viable option. In conclusion, there is a gap in knowledge regarding the effect of older age on the safety and efficacy of targeted asthma therapy. Further investigations in the elderly are needed, with special emphasis on both late-onset asthma and therapeutics for non-eosinophilic asthma.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)619-628
Number of pages10
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research programs

  • EMC MM-04-42-02
  • EMC NIHES-01-64-03

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