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Allergy. 2001;56 Suppl 66:22-9.

The role of leukotriene receptor antagonists in the treatment of chronic asthma in childhood.

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  • University of Southampton/University Child Health, Southampton, UK. jow@southampton.ac.uk


A considerable increase in the prevalence of childhood asthma over the last few decades has been mirrored by a dramatic increase in usage of anti-asthma drugs; however, there has been no reduction in the numbers of patients dying of asthma. Concern has been expressed about the development of tolerance with continuous use of inhaled beta-agonist bronchodilators and about the potential adverse systemic effects of high-dose inhaled corticosteroids in children. Moreover, patient compliance with inhaled therapy tends to be poor. The leukotriene receptor antagonists, including montelukast, pranlukast and zafirlukast, are orally administered agents with proven benefits in asthma. In a large, placebo-controlled pediatric trial, montelukast significantly (P < 0.02) reduced requirements for rescue beta-agonist bronchodilators, improved quality of life, reduced the circulating level of blood eosinophils and produced improvements in lung function. In adult studies, montelukast reduced sputum eosinophils and attenuated early and late phase allergen-induced reactions. Montelukast has also demonstrated protective effects against exercise-induced bronchospasm in both adults and children, and this protection was maintained during the trough period at the end of the once-daily administration interval (namely, 20-24 h post-dose). Several studies have demonstrated that the formation of cysteinyl leukotrienes in the airways of asthmatic patients is not suppressed by corticosteroids; thus, it is not surprising that montelukast demonstrates complementary effects when given with inhaled corticosteroids. Currently, the most compelling evidence from published trials suggests that leukotriene receptor antagonists can be used as add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids to allow tapering of corticosteroid dose and reduction in beta-agonist use. Recent clinical trial results suggest there may also be a role for these agents as first-line therapy in children with mild asthma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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