Background: Inhaled corticosteroids and leukotriene receptor antagonists reduce airway eosinophilia and have been used as first line anti-inflammatory therapy for mild persistent asthma.
Methods: A multicentre, randomised, placebo controlled, parallel group study was performed to compare the anti-inflammatory effects of fluticasone propionate and montelukast as measured by sputum eosinophils in 50 adults with symptomatic steroid naive asthma and sputum eosinophilia of ⩾3.5%.
Results: Eighteen patients received low dose fluticasone (250 μg/day), 19 received montelukast (10 mg/day), and 13 were given placebo for 8 weeks. Fluticasone treatment resulted in a greater reduction in sputum eosinophils (geometric mean (SD) 11.9 (2.3)% to 1.7 (5.1)%) than montelukast (10.7 (2.3)% to 6.9 (3.8)%; p = 0.04) or placebo (15.4 (2.4)% to 7.8 (4.2)%; p = 0.002), and improvement in FEV1 (mean (SD) 2.6 (0.9) l to 3.0 (0.9) l) than montelukast (2.8 (0.7) l to 2.8 (0.9) l; p = 0.02) or placebo (2.4 (0.8) l to 2.4 (0.9) l; p = 0.01). Treatment with fluticasone suppressed sputum eosinophilia within a week while montelukast only attenuated it. The effect of montelukast was maximal at 1 week and was maintained over 4 weeks. The effect of fluticasone was maintained over 8 weeks while that of montelukast was not.
Conclusions: Montelukast is not as effective as low dose fluticasone in reducing or maintaining an anti-inflammatory effect in steroid naïve eosinophilic asthma.
- eosinophilic asthma
- anti-inflammatory effect
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This study was partially supported by a medical school grant from Glaxo Wellcome Inc; L Jayaram was supported by a Fellowship from Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Inc; F E Hargreave is supported by the Father Sean O’Sullivan Research Centre.
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