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Study Backs Combined Asthma Therapy

Inhaled corticosteroid plus oral antileukotriene works for certain patients

FRIDAY, Aug. 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new study supports the combination of inhaled corticosteroids and antileukotriene drugs to treat asthma.

The Swedish study of 13 asthma patients examined whether the commonly prescribed inhaled corticosteroid treatment, fluticasone propionate (Flonase), reduced bronchial responsiveness to leukotriene D4, a naturally occurring substance that's increased in the lungs of people with asthma and produces allergic reactions much like a histamine.

The 13 patients took part in an inhalation challenge with methacholine (a drug that stimulates secretions and smooth muscle activity) and leukotriene D4 on consecutive days, before and after two weeks of twice daily treatment with inhaled fluticasone.

The two weeks of fluticasone therapy resulted in a significant reduction in methacholine sensitivity -- a measure of airway hyper-responsiveness -- and in exhaled nitric oxide, which is present in higher concentrations in inflamed asthmatic lungs.

However, the fluticasone treatment did not have any effect in blocking the broncho-constriction that occurs when leukotrienes were inhaled by the patients and did not influence the production of leukotrienes, as measured in the patients' urine.

The researchers said their findings, which were published in the July issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, support the use of combined therapy using an inhaled corticosteroid and an oral antileukotriene for certain patients with persistent asthma.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology news release, July 2006
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