The effect of a single oral dose (800 mg) of zileuton (A-64077), a specific 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor, on the early and late airway responses to inhaled allergen was studied in a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, and crossover trial in nine subjects with atopic asthma. Leukotriene generation was also assessed in vivo by measuring urinary leukotriene (LT) E4 excretion, and ex vivo by measuring calcium ionophore stimulated whole blood LTB4 production. Zileuton almost completely inhibited ex vivo LTB4 production but reduced urinary excretion of LTE4 by only about half. There was a trend for the early asthmatic response to be less on the day of zileuton treatment, but this did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.08). The zileuton induced reduction in maximum fall in FEV1 in the early asthmatic response was, however, significantly related to the reduction in urinary LTE4 excretion (r = 0.8), but not to the reduction in LTB4 generation ex vivo. There was no significant change in the allergen induced late asthmatic response, or in the increase in airway responsiveness to methacholine following antigen. The results provide some support for the hypothesis that the cysteinyl leukotrienes have a role in the allergen induced early asthmatic response. More complete in vivo inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase may be needed to produce a significant reduction in airway response to allergen challenge.
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