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Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2003;16(4):237-40.

Short-term effect of the addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists to the current therapy in severe asthmatics.

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Cardiothoracic Department, Respiratory Pathophysiology, University of Pisa, Ospedale di Cisanello, via Paradisa 2, Pisa 56100, Italy.


In a single blind study, the short-term efficacy of the addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRA: montelukast 10 mg o.d. in 15 subjects, zafirlukast 20 mg b.i.d. in 11 subjects) to the current therapy was evaluated in severe asthmatics, unstable under regular treatment with high dose inhaled corticosteroids, bronchodilators and, in seven of them, oral corticosteroids. Each subject monitored symptoms, PEF and rescue medication during two weeks with the addition of placebo, and during two following weeks with the addition of LTRA; clinic FEV1 was measured at the beginning and at the end of each 2 weeks period. There was no significant difference in the mean FEV1, PEF, symptom score and rescue medication use between two periods of placebo and LTRA treatments. When two subjects with asthma exacerbation during treatment with LTRA were excluded, FEV1 was higher after LTRA than after placebo treatment (p=0.055). An increase in FEV1>12% pred. at the end of LTRA treatment was observed in five out of 26 subjects (19%). We suggest that LTRA have no overall significant efficacy in severe asthmatics not controlled by high dose inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators, but that a minority of these patients could be particularly sensitive to the positive effects of these drugs. The detection of these 'responders' could be relevant in the treatment of severe asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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