Background: Responses to inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) and leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) vary among asthmatic patients.
Objective: We sought to determine whether responses to ICSs and LTRAs are concordant for individuals or whether asthmatic patients who do not respond to one medication respond to the other.
Methods: Children 6 to 17 years of age with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma were randomized to one of 2 crossover sequences, including 8 weeks of an ICS, fluticasone propionate (100 microg twice daily), and 8 weeks of an LTRA, montelukast (5-10 mg nightly depending on age), in a multicenter, double-masked, 18-week trial. Response was assessed on the basis of improvement in FEV 1 and assessed for relationships to baseline asthma phenotype-associated biomarkers.
Results: Defining response as improvement in FEV 1 of 7.5% or greater, 17% of 126 participants responded to both medications, 23% responded to fluticasone alone, 5% responded to montelukast alone, and 55% responded to neither medication. Compared with those who responded to neither medication, favorable response to fluticasone alone was associated with higher levels of exhaled nitric oxide, total eosinophil counts, levels of serum IgE, and levels of serum eosinophil cationic protein and lower levels of methacholine PC(20) and pulmonary function; favorable response to montelukast alone was associated with younger age and shorter disease duration. Greater differential response to fluticasone over montelukast was associated with higher bronchodilator use, bronchodilator response, exhaled nitric oxide levels, and eosinophil cationic protein levels and lower methacholine PC(20) and pulmonary function values.
Conclusions: Response to fluticasone and montelukast vary considerably. Children with low pulmonary function or high levels of markers associated with allergic inflammation should receive ICS therapy. Other children could receive either ICSs or LTRAs.