A stochastic mixed effects model to assess treatment effects and fluctuations in home-measured peak expiratory flow and the association with exacerbation risk in asthma

J. Leander, M. Jirstrand, U. G. Eriksson, R. Palmér. CPT: Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology, 18 November 2021.


Home-based measures of lung function, inflammation, symptoms, and medication use are frequently collected in respiratory clinical trials. However, new statistical approaches are needed to make better use of the information contained in these data-rich variables.

In this work, we use data from two Phase III asthma clinical trials – demonstrating the benefit of benralizumab treatment – to develop a novel longitudinal mixed effects model of peak expiratory flow (PEF), a lung function measure easily captured at home using a hand-held device. The model is based on an extension of the mixed effects modeling framework to incorporate stochastic differential equations and allows for quantification of several statistical properties of a patient’s PEF data: the longitudinal trend, long-term fluctuations, and day-to-day variability. These properties are compared between treatment groups and related to a patient’s exacerbation risk, using a repeated time-to-event model.

The mixed effects model adequately described the observed data from the two clinical trials and model parameters were accurately estimated. Benralizumab treatment was shown to improve a patient’s average PEF level and reduce long-term fluctuations. Both of these effects were shown to be associated with a lower exacerbation risk. The day-to-day variability was neither significantly affected by treatment nor associated with exacerbation risk.

Our work shows the potential of a stochastic model-based analysis of home-based lung function measures to support better estimation and understanding of treatment effects and disease stability. The proposed analysis can serve as a complement to descriptive statistics of home-based measures in the reporting of respiratory clinical trials.

Photo credits: Nic McPhee