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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Apr;88(4 Suppl 1):16-22.

The role of leukotrienes in upper and lower airway inflammation and the implications for treatment.

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  • 1Asthma and Allergic Disease Center, Bernie B. Carter Center for Immunology Research, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville 22908-1355, USA. lb4m@Virginia.EDU



This article reviews the proinflammatory effects of the cysteinyl leukotrienes (CysLTs) in the upper and lower airways, along with evidence of their role in allergic rhinitis and chronic hyperplastic sinusitis with nasal polyposis (CHS/NP). After reading this article, readers should have a greater understanding of the effects of the CysLTs on both upper and lower airways and their implications for treatment.


Relevant and appropriately controlled studies on the inflammatory processes associated with leukotrienes (LTs) were reviewed. Only literature in the English language was reviewed.


Material was taken from peer-reviewed journals and data generated from the author's laboratory.


The CysLTs possess proinflammatory effects that contribute to the increase of tissue eosinophilia. Emerging data support their importance in diseases of the upper airways, including allergic rhinitis and CHS/NP. The LT modifiers may be appropriate agents for treating inflammatory disorders of the upper airways because of their proven effectiveness in reducing inflammation in asthma. Results from studies in patients with allergic rhinitis demonstrated improved nasal rhinorrhea, sneezing, and congestion. LT modifiers have improved nasal congestion and restored the sense of smell in patients with CHS/NP.


The LT receptor antagonists have proven to be an effective antiinflammatory treatment for asthma. Emerging data indicate that LTs play a pivotal role in inflammatory upper airway disease, providing a growing rationale for the use of LT receptor antagonists to treat allergic rhinitis and CHS/NP.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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