Increase in urinary leukotriene LTE4 levels in acute asthma: correlation with airflow limitation
- Correspondence to:
Dr S A Green
Director, Respiratory & Allergy, Merck Research Laboratories, 126 East Lincoln Avenue, RY34B-340, Rahway, NJ, USA;
- Received 13 March 2003
- Accepted 7 October 2003
Background: Leukotrienes play a key role in the pathophysiology of chronic asthma. Activation of leukotriene pathways is accompanied by rises in detectable urinary levels of leukotriene E4 (LTE4). The relationship between urinary LTE4 levels and factors associated with acute asthma has not been determined.
Methods: Adults aged 15–54 years presenting with moderate to severe acute asthma were evaluated at emergency departments in 16 US sites. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was measured during the first 60 minutes after arrival and at specified times until discharge or admission. Urine samples for measurement of LTE4 levels were obtained either on arrival at the study site and/or before discharge. Patients were seen 2 weeks later for follow up, at which time repeat FEV1 measurements and urine samples for LTE4 were obtained.
Results: One hundred and eighty four patients were evaluated; LTE4 results from both the acute and follow up periods were available for analysis in 146. Urinary LTE4 levels were increased during asthma exacerbations compared with levels obtained 2 weeks later (geometric means 111.7 and 75.6 pg/mg creatinine, respectively, mean percentage change −32.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) for the mean percentage change −39.6 to −24.3, p<0.001). The correlation between improvement in FEV1 and decline in LTE4 over the 2 week interval was significant (p<0.001, r = 0.43).
Conclusions: Activation of leukotriene pathways in acute asthma is correlated with the degree of airflow obstruction, and resolution of the asthma exacerbation is associated with a reduction in leukotriene levels.
This study was funded by Merck & Co, Inc.
Drs Green, Malice, Tanaka, Tozzi, and Reiss are employees of Merck.
Presented in part at the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine Conference, Atlanta, GA (May 2001) and the American Thoracic Society International Conference (San Francisco, CA, May 2001 and Atlanta, May 2002).