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October 28, 1996

Leukotrienes in Asthma: The Potential Therapeutic Role of Antileukotriene Agents

Author Affiliations

From the Pulmonary Division, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Ill.

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(19):2181-2189. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440180039004

Recent advances in research have led to the identification of an inflammatory component to asthma. Although many endogenous mediators are involved in inflammation, leukotrienes appear to play an especially important role in asthma. The leukotrienes produce tissue edema, mucus secretion, and smooth-muscle proliferation, along with a powerful bronchoconstriction. In addition, antileukotriene drugs have emerged as potential therapeutic agents for asthma. This study was designed to review the current information on these new agents. In this review, full-length articles of antileukotriene agents are examined. These articles were found through MEDLINE under the following medical headings: asthma, inflammation, leukotriene, leukotriene-receptor antagonist, and leukotriene-synthesis inhibitor. Most clinical studies cited are placebo-controlled trials involving healthy individuals and patients with asthma. These studies indicate that antileukotriene agents improve lung function and reduce the symptoms of asthma and the need for additional medication. Drugs that inhibit leukotriene-receptor binding and leukotriene synthesis hold promise as new additions to the armamentarium of clinicians who treat asthma. Furthermore, these drugs have already helped to elucidate some details of the pathophysiological features of asthma. Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:2181-2189

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