Background: Adenosine induced bronchoconstriction in patients with asthma is thought to be mediated by the synthesis and release of autacoids from airway mast cells. In vitro, adenosine induced constriction of asthmatic bronchi is blocked by a combination of specific histamine and cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonists, but the relative contribution of these mediators in vivo is unclear. We hypothesised that adenosine induced bronchoconstriction in asthmatic patients may be blocked by pretreatment with the orally active selective cysteinyl leukotriene-1 (CysLT1) receptor antagonist, montelukast.
Methods: In a randomised, double blind, crossover study, oral montelukast (10 mg) or placebo was administered once daily on two consecutive days to 18 patients with mild to moderate persistent atopic asthma. Incremental doses of adenosine 5`-monophosphate (AMP) from 0.39 to 400 mg/ml were inhaled by dosimeter and the dose producing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20AMP) after AMP inhalation was recorded. Leukotriene E4 (LTE4) urinary concentrations were measured by enzyme immunoassay 4 hours after AMP challenge.
Results: Montelukast pretreatment provided highly significant protection against adenosine induced bronchoconstriction, with geometric mean PC20AMP values of 52.6 mg/ml (95% CI 35.2 to 78.7) after placebo and 123.9 mg/ml (95% CI 83.0 to 185.0) after montelukast (p=0.006). The geometric mean of the montelukast/placebo PC20AMP ratio was 2.4 (95% CI 1.3 to 4.2). Montelukast had no significant effect on 4 hour urinary excretion of LTE4 compared with placebo.
Conclusions: Selective CysLT1 receptor antagonism with montelukast provides highly significant protection against AMP induced bronchoconstriction in patients with atopic asthma, implying that cysteinyl leukotrienes are generated from airway mast cells through preferential activation of their A2B receptors.