Background: The urinary leukotriene E4 (U-LTE4) concentration is significantly increased in patients with aspirin-intolerant asthma (AIA). However, the relationship between the clinicopathogenetic factors of asthma and the U-LTE4 concentration remains undetermined.
Objective: We sought to examine the clinical features of asthmatic patients with increased excretion levels of U-LTE4 (hyperleukotrienuria).
Methods: We measured the U-LTE4 concentrations in 137 asthmatic patients (including 64 patients with AIA) who were in clinically stable condition. A U-LTE4 concentration of 150 pg/mg creatinine or greater (mean U-LTE4 + 3 SDs of normal healthy control subjects) was indicative of hyperleukotrienuria.
Results: The basal concentration of U-LTE4 was significantly higher in the patients with AIA than in those with aspirin-tolerant asthma (ATA; median, 227.2 vs 90.3 pg/mg creatinine; P <.01). Compared with normal leukotrienuria in the patients with AIA, hyperleukotrienuria in the patients with AIA was associated with older age and decrease in pulmonary function. On the other hand, compared with normal leukotrienuria in the patients with ATA, hyperleukotrienuria in the patients with ATA was associated with severe asthma and chronic hyperplastic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (CHRS/NP), which are well-known symptoms of the aspirin triad, as well as hypereosinophilia and anosmia. The patients with ATA with CHRS/NP excreted U-LTE4 at significantly high concentrations. There were significant decreases in the U-LTE4 concentrations before and after the sinus surgery in both the AIA and ATA groups (P <.05).
Conclusion: Cysteinyl leukotrienes are not strictly associated with aspirin intolerance itself but rather with clinical features, such as CHRS/NP, that are similar to those seen in AIA. CHRS/NP might be involved in cysteinyl leukotriene overproduction in asthmatic patients.