Cetirizine. A review of its pharmacological properties and clinical potential in allergic rhinitis, pollen-induced asthma, and chronic urticaria

Drugs. 1990 Nov;40(5):762-81. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199040050-00009.


Cetirizine, a piperazine derivative and carboxylated metabolite of hydroxyzine, is a potent histamine H1-receptor antagonist with antiallergic properties. It has marked affinity for peripheral histamine H1-receptors and, at the standard dose of 10mg daily, lacks the CNS depressant effects of standard antihistamines. In addition, it inhibits histamine release and eosinophil chemotaxis during the secondary phase of the allergic response. Results from controlled clinical trials indicate that cetirizine is an effective and well tolerated treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis and chronic idiopathic urticaria. Cetirizine appears to be as effective as conventional dosages of terfenadine, chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine in relieving symptoms associated with these disorders and produces a markedly lower incidence of sedation than chlorpheniramine, hydroxyzine and several other standard antihistamines. Thus, cetirizine appears to provide a useful alternative to other 'nonsedating' antihistamines; cetirizine may also have a future role in the treatment of allergic asthma and certain forms of physical urticaria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Cetirizine
  • Chronic Disease
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / pharmacokinetics
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyzine / adverse effects
  • Hydroxyzine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Hydroxyzine / pharmacokinetics
  • Hydroxyzine / pharmacology
  • Hydroxyzine / therapeutic use
  • Pollen
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / drug therapy*
  • Urticaria / drug therapy*


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Cetirizine