Exploring impact of mepolizumab treatment for asthma on brain structures and wellbeing

Theme Respiratory disease

Workstream Exacerbation prediction and aerosol emissions

Status: This project is ongoing

Patients with severe asthma are often affected by anxiety, depression and other conditions that influence brain activity. These conditions can impact how severe someone’s asthma gets, they can themselves be the result of poorly controlled asthma or be caused by treatment used to manage the condition.

Some studies suggest that the brains of people with asthma look different during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) when compared with the brains of people without the condition. We don’t fully understand why this is or if this is a particular problem for patients with severe and poorly controlled asthma. This is why we need to explore how asthma treatments affect both brain structure and function in patients.

Mepolizumab is a drug that can be used to treat certain types of severe, inflammatory asthma. Data from randomised controlled trials and the real world has shown that patients taking mepolizumab take fewer corticosteroids (an anti-inflammatory medicine) and don’t get extremely unwell as often. These trials also have shown that patients have a better quality of life, although they didn’t look in detail at mood, thinking and well-being in this patient group.

Project aims

During this study we will examine the brain structure and function of people with severe asthma. We will do this before they start being treated with mepolizumab and check them again six months later. Doing this will allow us to evaluate any changes in mental health and brain structure and activity they might experience while taking mepolizumab.

We will compare these results with those from patients with well-controlled asthma. This will allow us to assess whether the changes we are seeing might be directly caused by mepolizumab, or if they are associated with the secondary effects of better asthma control that can be achieved with this drug.