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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001 Jun;86(6 Suppl 1):31-9.

The role of antileukotrienes in the treatment of asthma.

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Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.



This article reviews the literature on the role of antileukotrienes (anti-LTs), specifically montelukast, zafirlukast, and zileuton, in the treatment of asthma.


Relevant and appropriate controlled clinical studies were used. Only literature in the English language was reviewed.


Material was taken from academic/scholarly journals, appropriate reviews, and published abstracts.


In guidelines established by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a stepwise approach to asthma management is recommended, with recommendations varying depending on degree of disease severity. The anti-LTs, the newest class of drugs for the treatment of asthma, play a circumscribed role in the guidelines as they were only recently available when the latest guidelines were published. Subsequently, however, extensive clinical experience with the anti-LTs has been amassed. Multiple clinical studies have demonstrated that the anti-LTs improve pulmonary function and quality of life, and reduce asthma symptoms, asthma exacerbations, and use of beta2-agonists and oral steroids. The anti-LTs may be particularly useful in asthma patients with aspirin sensitivity or concomitant allergic rhinitis, as well as in pediatric patients. These agents have additive effects with inhaled corticosteroids and may permit a reduction in inhaled corticosteroid dosages.


The anti-LTs have several features that are likey to promote adherence to treatment and are generally well tolerated. The available clinical data suggest that anti-LTs should be considered as a therapeutic option or as additive therapy in patients with mild to severe asthma.

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