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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Update on leukotriene receptor antagonists in preschool children wheezing disorders

Silvia Montella, Marco Maglione, Sara De Stefano, Angelo Manna, Angela Di Giorgio and Francesca Santamaria*

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics, Federico II University, Via Sergio Pansini, 5, Naples, 80131, Italy

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Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2012, 38:29  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-38-29

Published: 26 June 2012

Abstract

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in young children. About 40% of all preschool children regularly wheeze during common cold infections. The heterogeneity of wheezing phenotypes early in life and various anatomical and emotional factors unique to young children present significant challenges in the clinical management of this problem. Anti-inflammatory therapy, mainly consisting of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), is the cornerstone of asthma management. Since Leukotrienes (LTs) are chemical mediators of airway inflammation in asthma, the leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) are traditionally used as potent anti-inflammatory drugs in the long-term treatment of asthma in adults, adolescents, and school-age children. In particular, montelukast decreases airway inflammation, and has also a bronchoprotective effect. The main guidelines on asthma management have confirmed the clinical utility of LTRAs in children older than five years. In the present review we describe the most recent advances on the use of LTRAs in the treatment of preschool wheezing disorders. LTRAs are effective in young children with virus-induced wheeze and with multiple-trigger disease. Conflicting data do not allow to reach definitive conclusions on LTRAs efficacy in bronchiolitis or post-bronchiolitis wheeze, and in acute asthma. The excellent safety profile of montelukast and the possibility of oral administration, that entails better compliance from young children, represent the main strengths of its use in preschool children. Montelukast is a valid alternative to ICS especially in poorly compliant preschool children, or in subjects who show adverse effects related to long-term steroid therapy.

Keywords:
Leukotriene receptor antagonists; Asthma; Preschool children; Wheezing; Bronchiolitis