Multiview cluster analysis identifies variable corticosteroid response phenotypes in severe asthma

Wei Wu, Seojin Bang, Eugene R. Bleecker, Mario Castro, Loren Denlinger, Serpil C. Erzurum, John V. Fahy, Anne M. Fitzpatrick, Benjamin M. Gaston, Annette T. Hastie, Elliot Israel, Nizar N. Jarjour, Bruce D. Levy, David T. Mauger, Deborah A. Meyers, Wendy C. Moore, Michael Peters, Brenda R. Phillips, Wanda Phipatanakul, Ronald L. SorknessSally E. Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Rationale: Corticosteroids (CSs) are the most effective asthma therapy, but responses are heterogeneous and systemic CSs lead to long-term side effects. Therefore, an improved understanding of the contributing factors in CS responses could enhance precision management. Although several factors have been associated with CS responsiveness, no integrated/cluster approach has yet been undertaken to identify differential CS responses. Objectives: To identify asthma subphenotypes with differential responses to CS treatment using an unsupervised multiview learning approach. Methods: Multiple-kernel k-means clustering was applied to 100 clinical, physiological, inflammatory, and demographic variables from 346 adult participants with asthma in the Severe Asthma Research Program with paired (before and 2-3 weeks after triamcinolone administration) sputum data. Machine-learning techniques were used to select the top baseline variables that predicted cluster assignment for a new patient. Measurements and Main Results: Multiple-kernel clustering revealed four clusters of individuals with asthma and different CS responses. Clusters 1 and 2 consisted of young, modestly CS-responsive individuals with allergic asthma and relatively normal lung function, separated by contrasting sputum neutrophil and macrophage percentages after CS treatment. The subjects in cluster 3 had late-onset asthma and low lung function, high baseline eosinophilia, and the greatest CS responsiveness. Cluster 4 consisted primarily of young, obese females with severe airflow limitation, little eosinophilic inflammation, and the least CS responsiveness. The top 12 baseline variables were identified, and the clusters were validated using an independent Severe Asthma Research Program test set. Conclusions: Our machine learning-based approaches provide new insights into the mechanisms of CS responsiveness in asthma, with the potential to improve disease treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1358-1367
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019


  • asthma phenotype
  • corticosteroids
  • eosinophils
  • severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiview cluster analysis identifies variable corticosteroid response phenotypes in severe asthma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this